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Affiliate marketing is one of my favourite ways of monetising my blog.
And that’s not because I’m a pushy, salesy person or I’m very good at sales. Actually, I have never worked in sales in my entire life, and truth to be told, I’m not cut for it. I don’t have what it takes. I wouldn’t be able to lure someone into a product to get a commission on their purchase. I wouldn’t be able to approach any customers, I would feel like bothering them. So, basically, due to my personality, I would be the worst sale(wo)man ever seen in the history of sales!
At the same, though, I’m that kind of person that when they truly like something they can’t stop raving about it. It has happened in real life when I found out about Hello Fresh , MyYogaWorks, or when I finally found a GP that was thorough, knew their stuff and gave proper treatment. No need to say that half of my family and friends now see the same GP!
So, you see, if I find a deal or discover something that works wonders, I get so passionate that I can’t shut up about it. And that’s why I love affiliate marketing.
With affiliate marketing, I feel I can offer a service by making recommendations on things that I use myself and love, so that other people can benefit from them. With the added bonus that I get compensated for doing that. But without selling my soul! It’s a win-win situation really.
Table of Contents
What’s affiliate marketing
I won’t spend much time explaining what affiliate marketing is because I assume that if you’re reading this post you most likely know what it is and you may even have had a go at it.
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is a process where you earn a commission by promoting other people’s or companies’ products and services if the sale is generated through your link or promotional efforts.
Basically, there are three parties involved in the process: a merchant/company providing products or services, a customer buying these products or services, and an affiliate, that is the “middle man” promoting these products or services to potential customers and earning a commission on any sales generated through their promotion. Sometimes, the affiliate may even earn a commission per lead or click.
If you find this definition still a bit confusing or you’re not yet familiar with all the different terms and jargon, have a look at this comprehensive glossary.
While for me the beauty of being an affiliate is the ability to share with people I care about, products that I have tested myself and absolutely love, affiliate marketing also provides me with the opportunity to earn a nice passive – and I emphasise the word PASSIVE – income while blogging.
I emphasise the word passive because with affiliate marketing you can earn money while sleeping, travelling on holiday or spending time with your loved ones, with no much effort and very minimal work required: you write a blog post or a review and you get to earn money from it for years down the track.
Isn’t that a dream?
So, if you’re thinking of monetising your blog or social media accounts (you don’t even need to necessarily have a website/blog to be an affiliate), you should definitely look into affiliate marketing.
I’m going to give you some actionable tips easy to implement that will kick start your affiliate marketing game. If you don’t have time to go through all of them now, you can always pin this post for later.PIN IT FOR LATER
How to succeed at affiliate marketing
If it’s true that affiliate marketing is a very easy way to make money, you can’t really just place a few links on your blog and expect people to click on them and get you a commission.
What has worked for me so far to succeed at affiliate marketing and get a great conversion rate from my posts is
- Having a winning strategy in place
- Joining affiliate programs that make your life easier
A winning affiliate marketing strategy
The content of your blog is the key to your affiliate sales.The content of your website is the key to your affiliate sales.Click To Tweet
Where the content and your affiliate recommendations are not of a high enough quality, your visitors will quickly move on to the next blog.
As they say, content is king.
Good quality content on your blog will attract and retain readers. The best positioning for affiliate links and banners are within the content of your blog. Affiliate banners in your sidebar may look pretty, but this is not where your readers will click.
The best way to make the content and link interesting for your readers is to ensure that the two blends well and mix kindly within your overall blog. This is why products related to your blog work best.
Your posts should not appear as a mass of links for affiliate sales. Each post should be full of great content with links you hardly notice as you read.
Those who are reading your content are interested in the information you are providing. This makes them more likely to click on your link and make a purchase.
By combining your blog, social media activities and great content, your traffic and audience will be targeted to your affiliate links.
However, don’t forget that as they say, the money is in the list!
Your affiliate links are exponentially more likely to convert when placed in an email to your subscribers.
So, if you haven’t started an email list yet, start it immediately or you will leave money on the table.
Now, let’s see what you can start doing today to up your affiliate marketing game and skyrocket your income.
Actionable tips to succeed at affiliate marketing and make more money blogging
#1 Join reputable affiliate programs or networks
Apply to join reputable and high-paying affiliate programs and networks. I will recommend some below to make things easier for you.
Before applying, make sure you have all the legal aspects of your blog in order or else your applications may be rejected.
For example, this is what Bluehost affiliate agreement requires. Many other affiliate programs require the same.
If you don’t meet these legal requirements, your application may be declined or your affiliate account may be closed if they found out.
Besides, it’s always a good idea to have your legal stuff in order as otherwise, you may incur fines, may risk being sued or suffer reputation damages.
#2 Pick only a few GREAT products
Pick a few products you would like to promote and focus on those only. Don’t try to promote too many products at once or you will get overwhelmed and it will be more difficult to achieve results.
Always promote products of the highest quality that you have tested or used personally and found worth recommending.
This will allow you to build trust with your audience and to test that the system works in its entirety having both the product yourself.
#3 Focus on affiliate programs that pay recurring fees
My favourite affiliate programs are those that provide recurring fees.
You make your promotional efforts once and then, once converted, you keep earning a commission over and over again, usually on a monthly basis.
Look for affiliate programs that pay recurring fees in your niche and if you find any for great products, focus your efforts on those.
#4 Look for affiliate programs for free products, leads and upsells with generous commissions and long cookie periods
Other awesome affiliate programs to join are those that reward their affiliates for leads and promoting free products, and those that have a long cookie period.
These affiliate programs are great because obviously, it’s much easier to get your readers to sign up for something free. Your aim is to suggest that people click on the link to investigate or try the product or service out for free. Once in, it will be up to the brand, merchant or company to do the hard selling.
Again, look for this kind of affiliate programs and if you find any for great products, focus your promotional efforts on those.
It comes with a generous commission of 40% and outstanding 365-day cookies. We will track your affiliate code even when you promote our FREE courses and products. So, basically, you promote our FREE courses and products and let us do all the heavy lifting to convert your referral into a sale! If your referrals do end up converting into a purchase of any of our paid courses, products or templates within a year, you will be awarded a 40% commission on the purchase price!JOIN AFFILIATE PROGRAM
#5 Always disclose your affiliate relationship
Always disclose your affiliate relationship to your readers to maintain integrity and credibility.
In the US, disclosures are legally required by the FTC so you must have them or you may incur hefty fines.
But even if you’re not based in the US, I still recommend adding affiliate disclosures wherever you promote products as an affiliate.
This is for several reasons.
First of all, you want to be as transparent as possible to your readers and followers. Secondly, brands, companies, or affiliate networks may not want to work with you if you don’t have the appropriate disclosures in place. Finally, being the US a huge market, affiliate disclosures are seen in more and more blogs, readers have become accustomed to this as if it was the standard everywhere. So, even if you’re not required by law in your country to disclose your affiliate partnership, your readers may not know this and as disclosures are now somewhat expected, they may think you’re being shady.
If you need help with your affiliate disclosures, you can get my ready-to-use and FTC compliant templates here.
Once you have your affiliate disclosure ready, you can add it to the top of all your posts containing affiliate links either manually (preferred choice) or by using the free FMTC disclosure plugin.
#6 No-follow links
In the same vein, always make your affiliate links “no follow” and never cloak affiliate links unless allowed by the affiliate agreement. You can make your affiliate links no-follow either manually (preferred choice) or by using a free plugin such as Ultimate No Follow.
#7 Limit the number of affiliate links within a post
Do not overload your readers. Too many affiliate marketing activities make it difficult for a reader to choose which one or two to click.
Where you offer a handful of links it is easier for a reader to choose which to click.
Should your post have 100 different affiliate links, readers are more likely to click away from your post and move elsewhere.
It also doesn’t sit well with search engines.
#8 Write reviews, case-studies, tutorials or similar
Posts that work best for affiliate marketing are those that focus on one product only such as reviews, tutorials, case studies, buying guides or comparisons.
There is nothing more powerful than a well-written, detailed review that outlines everything a potential buyer should know about a product.
People who are on the fence about purchasing a product need as much information as possible. They want to be reassured and to know that the products they purchase are great, and will help them achieve results.
So, you should always consider writing a comprehensive, in-depth review of any product you plan to promote. Not every affiliate will make the effort to write reviews for the products they are promoting so doing this will help to set you apart from the competition and educate and inform prospects into making sound buying decisions.
Keep your reviews genuine and honest. Place an affiliate link at the top, one in the middle section and one towards the bottom of your post.
#9 Add a recommendation or resource page to your blog
The only exception to limiting the number of affiliate links are recommendation or resource pages. In those, it’s fine to promote several products at once and to add as many affiliate links as needed.
If you don’t have a recommendation or resource page on your blog, make one now. They convert very well because readers will find everything you recommend neatly listed in just one place instead of having to go through several posts.
#10 Write income reports
If you blog about blogging or making money online, write income reports and add your affiliate links within them.
I don’t publish those because in Australian culture talking about how much you earn is considered poor in taste but income reports are one of the most effective marketing tools ever.
You’re showing people through tangible proofs that you’re achieving results and making a profit thanks to a product. They will want to buy that product!
#11 Offer a bonus
When promoting a product offer a bonus to those who purchase the product through your affiliate link.
You need to create something to offer as a bonus that ultimately extends the value of their purchase and is a direct tie-in to the main product you are promoting without taking away from what that product offers.
Always strive to offer something not already included, as well as a bonus item that enhances the value.
You want the benefit to be clear to anyone who is considering purchasing through your links, letting them know why they’re making a smart decision by buying through you.
But please only offer a bonus if it’s so allowed by your affiliate agreement. Going against your affiliate agreement by offering a bonus when it’s not allowed, it doesn’t only make you risk being kicked out from that affiliate program but it also affects your reputation.
For example, I promote Siteground as the best web host for new bloggers within my post on how to start a blog the right way and my course Blogging for New Bloggers Fast Track. If I offered a bonus to anyone signing up for Siteground through my link, my conversion rates would obviously skyrocket.
However, Siteground affiliate agreement expressly forbids offering bonuses (including offering to set up a website in exchange for signing up through your affiliate link) and so I don’t do it.
If you did offer a bonus for signing up for Siteground through your affiliate link you would look dodgy, shady and desperate for a sale.
Your integrity and reputation are far more important than a quick buck.Your integrity and reputation are far more important than a quick buck. Click To Tweet
#12 Create a course
My FREE course Blogging for New Bloggers Fast Track is generating a great passive income through affiliate links.
This is because, while I show new bloggers how to start and run a blog the right way, I also mention some tools that helped grow my blog.
As long as you always disclose your affiliate relationship and links, I think it’s fair to use affiliate links within a free course because it’s at no cost to those enrolled in the course.
But if they end up switching to the providers that I use because of my endorsement within my course, I think it’s only fair that the provider should pay for my endorsement and referral (at no extra cost for my students).
Courses are one of the best ways to promote your affiliate links as you are actually teaching and showing your students why they need a given tool or resource.
We’ve chosen Teachable as most of its functionality is intuitive, creating a course is seamless and the upload of material such as videos, photos, etc. is really easy. Creating sales pages or integrating discount coupons is a smooth process. It takes care of the payment aspect and any possible refund. And if you have an affiliate program, it tracks everything for you and sends the right amount to your affiliates.
A bonus point is that Teachable has lots of resources to help you create and market your course.
#13 Negotiate with your affiliate manager
Alternatively, if your blog stats and metrics in terms of traffic, followers, subscribers are great or you’re performing extremely well as an affiliate , consider approaching your affiliate manager and negotiate a better deal for yourself (for example, a higher commission) or for your audience (for example, a discount code, a coupon, a bonus or a better deal which would convince them to buy through your link instead of your competitors’).
Don’t be shy or afraid to ask. You have nothing to lose and if they actually meet your request, you will quickly increase your income because of higher commission amounts or higher number of sales.
#14 Track your results
Consistently reviewing your results can be a great motivator, especially when you see how much money is on the way to your commission account. More importantly, keeping track of your results shows you how each affiliate is performing. Focus on the highest-performing products. Where something is not working consistently – replace it.
#15 Write in other languages or use other platforms
Another way to increase your income from affiliate marketing without much effort is to write posts in different languages. This will allow non-English speaking users to reach your content and click on your affiliate links. This way you’re opening up to new markets by reusing your content. In the same vein, you can repurpose your content by using different platforms such as a YouTube channel or a podcast and give your affiliate links even more reach.
Invest in your education
If you’re new(ish) to this whole blogging thing but you’re eager to make an income from your blog, I suggest learning more about affiliate marketing and investing in a course on the topic.
Michelle is one of the most successful bloggers in the world. She is only in her late twenties and makes over $50K a month through affiliate marketing, and in her course, she shares all her winning strategies and secrets.
Her course consists of 6 modules, over 30 lessons, over 20 worksheets, plus several bonuses. It is quite comprehensive, well organised and well written.
However, I think it’s more suitable for beginners.
It’s a bit pricey (although she offers payment plan options) so I would only recommend if you’re a new blogger or you don’t know much about affiliate marketing.
If that’s the case, then this course is for you because Michelle really goes through all the basics and explains everything in a clear way.
If you’re a seasoned blogger, you will find that the information shared in the first few modules are not exactly eye-opening or unheard of. To be honest, I knew pretty much everything addressed in most modules. But I still like the fact that this course is comprehensive and doesn’t give anything for granted or assume you know already lots of information.
The second part of the course comes with actionable tips, useful information, and innovative strategies. If you’re a beginner or if you’re not seeing any results from your affiliate marketing efforts, I’m sure that through her course you will learn something that will significantly improve your marketing strategy and make your investment well worth it.
My personal recommendations are for two other courses.
They are both awesome and the best part is, they’re super affordable!
The first one is Affiliate Marketing Simplified by Cate Rosales.
This course is more suited for beginner bloggers and it’s ideal to figure out how to use affiliate marketing to make money blogging. Cate also offers two other valuable resources on affiliate marketing at a price too good to pass on: Affiliate Masterlist and tiered affiliate ebook.
If you’re a more experienced blogger, then I’d recommend Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers by Carly Campbell).
Compared to Making sense of Affiliate Marketing, this is a very affordable course where Carly discusses and shares her winning affiliate strategy. It may be less comprehensive and structured but it offers a stronger perspective.
Considering how reasonably priced both Cate’s and Carly’s courses are, I would definitely recommend enrolling in these courses.
They’re the best value for money!
Affiliate programs that make your life easier
Once you have a winning strategy in place, you need a few tools that will make your strategy easy to implement.
Most companies offer affiliate programs on their websites, usually in the footer.
From there, you can apply to join their program as an affiliate. If accepted, you will receive a unique and trackable affiliate link and most times, banners and other tools and resources.
Once you’re an affiliate, you can start promoting products and services by placing your affiliate links and/or banners on your website, via email (if so allowed by the affiliate program) or in your posts or pins on social media platforms.
Instead of applying for different individual affiliate programs, and having, as a result, several accounts to keep track of, many logins to remember and money sitting in different accounts waiting to reach payout thresholds, I suggest picking a few good affiliate networks and stick with them.
In terms of which affiliate programs to pick, most bloggers start with Amazon Associates.
That’s not only because Amazon is one of the most popular and trusted brands but also because they have so many products that it would be impossible not to find something relevant to your niche to promote.
However, their affiliate commission is not very high, and they have so many rules and restrictions on how, what, where, and to whom you can promote your affiliate links.
So, in addition to – or instead of – Amazon Associates, I recommend joining at least another affiliate network.
I will list some of my favourite ones (for different reasons) below.
Here is why I like it:
- It gives you access to thousands of merchants
- It’s popular and has a great reputation
- It’s FREE to join
- The process to get accepted as an affiliate is very easy and straightforward
- The payout threshold is only $50 (compared to $100 of most affiliate programs out there including Amazon)
- They pay on time
- You can get paid directly to your bank account via a direct deposit or to your PayPal account
- It doesn’t require minimum traffic
- The earnings from different merchants are consolidated in only one account, instead of having money sitting in different accounts waiting to reach the payout threshold.
With over 6,000 merchants covering every niche, this is another great affiliate program to join. The only catch is that they require a $5 admission fee but you will get it back with your first payout.
I wouldn’t use Skimilinks by default but I find worthwhile to join this network because it can act as a parachute for you if you don’t get accepted into a specific affiliate program.
In fact, unlike any other affiliate network, you don’t need to apply for each affiliate program individually. Once you join Skimlinks, you automatically become an affiliate for over 20,000 merchants, including Amazon and e-bay, but all your earnings will be consolidated in your Skimlinks account.
Unlike any other affiliate network, you don’t need to use specific affiliate links but Skimlinks will make regular links your affiliate links. But be careful in specifying what links you would want to turn into affiliate links or it may automatically change them all depending on your settings and your blog may risk looking spammy.
The main reason I suggest joining this network is that it gives you access to affiliate programs for which you may have been denied on your own. What I mean is, let’s say you apply for the e-bay affiliate program but your application is rejected. You still get to promote products on e-bay by using your Skimlinks link.
Other great features include:
- It’s FREE to join
- The payout threshold is only $10 (yes, that’s right, ONLY 10 DOLLARS)
- Long-lasting cookies
- Commission on the whole shopping cart, not the single item linked
- You can get paid directly to your bank account via a direct deposit or to your PayPal account
- Your traffic needs to mostly come from the US, UK or Australia
- Skimilinks does get a commission on your earnings but due to a volume of their sales, they were able to negotiate with their merchants a way higher commission than what you would get if you flew solo so the fact that they retain a commission doesn’t really affect your earnings.
This is hands down my favourite affiliate program.
Ultimate Bundles are collections of online resources sold at the whopping discount of 90-98% OFF the original price. Some bundles are open for sale for a limited amount of time (usually 5 days) while others are evergreen and are available all year round.
The reasons I strongly recommend joining this affiliate program are:
- A generous commission of 40% for every sale you refer
- As an affiliate, you get access to a further 40% discount on the bundles’ price
- The bundles are absolutely awesome, they’re affordable, they’re basically a bargain and they sell like hot cakes
- There are bundles for many different niches so you would definitely find some that are interesting and valuable to your readers and yourself
- When you join the affiliate program, you also get FREE marketing training from the insightful and resourceful Ultimate Bundles Team
- And many more benefits.
Here is the list of the bundles you could be promoting in 2019:
Every bundle is an incredible value for your readers, and therefore I definitely recommend joining the program.
You can join the Ultimate Bundle Affiliate Program by filling out the form below.
Special mention to our own affiliate program which is one of the highest-paying out there.
It comes with a generous commission of 40% on sale price, outstanding 365-day cookies and several other perks including the affiliate link tracking for FREE courses and the possibility to share your own affiliate links with the 22K+ members of our private Facebook Group Blogging for New Bloggers.
If you’re after great ways to monetise your blog, this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss!
Good luck with your affiliate marketing!
It’s a fantastic way to generate income through your blog and you can achieve incredible passive income, like this couple who make over $20K a month through affiliate marketing.
So, if you’re not monetising your blog through affiliate marketing, you really are leaving money on the table and you should start implementing my tips ASAP.
But bear in mind that affiliate marketing is not the only way you can make money blogging. Here are other popular ways bloggers make money.