Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing

You can’t stick affiliate links everywhere and expect money to magically start rolling in. No matter what the “experts” say, it is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

To consistently earn money from affiliate marketing, you must build trust with your audience. It takes time, but it pays off in the long-run.

Since affiliate marketing is a low-cost, low-risk opportunity, many bloggers start here when creating a monetization strategy.



How To Become an Affiliate

Unless you are an affiliate with an affiliate link, you aren’t going to earn money recommending or reviewing products. If you just stick a standard link to an item on Amazon, or any other company, people can click on it and buy it all day long and you won’t see a dime.

You must first become an affiliate for the items or services you want to promote. Often companies or brands run their own affiliate programs. You sign up for these directly on their website. If this is the case, you fill out an online form to apply to become an affiliate. The company will contact you directly to let you know when or if you are approved.

Other companies outsource their affiliate programs to affiliate networks. In this scenario, you join the network and become approved to promote many products. ShareASale is one example. You click on the “Affiliate Sign Up” button on their homepage and create your account. Once approved, you follow a similar process to apply for the different brands. They represent companies like:

> PicMonkey

> Cricut

> Zazzle

> FreshBooks

> Green Kids Crafts

With companies in several different industries, most bloggers find at least a couple of brands that are a good match for their audience.

If you’re struggling to find suitable affiliate programs, think about what products or companies you personally use and love. Then type “Name of company + Affiliate program” into Google. Many companies have affiliate programs available, so it’s a good idea to check.



Understand the Affiliate Agreement

When you become an affiliate for a company, make sure you read the fine print. Before you promote a product through affiliate marketing, make sure you know what the benefit is.

Sometimes you receive a percentage of the sale. Other companies have a flat-rate referral program.

Since companies want to make sure the sale goes through and the product isn’t returned, there’s often a delay in payment. Some affiliate companies pay out after thirty days, some after seventy-five days or even longer. This information should all be available for you. Become familiar with it.

You also need to be aware of any restrictions or expectations. For instance, Amazon requires you to have their disclosure statement on your blog (see chapter seven).

Terms and conditions get updated occasionally. When they do, read them and look for any major changes. You always need to know what restrictions are in place.

Companies like it when their affiliates are successful, because it means they are selling more. To help you promote their products, many provide you with a variety of tools. In addition to your unique affiliate link, you may find:

> Banners

> Social media images

> Special coupon codes

> Ideas for promotion

> Video instruction to help you earn more as an affiliate

Take time to explore your affiliate dashboard (or portal) and see what is available. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t use it.



Provide Value To Your Audience

You must earn your audience’s trust before they start making purchases you recommend. Part of earning their trust means always providing value.

Don’t promote products you don’t believe in just because there’s a nice affiliate reward. Readers will see through this and quickly walk away.

The following are four tips for always providing value for your readers.



Tip #1: Match Your Niche

Are you a fashion blogger? Affiliate links to beauty products, spa services, and idea books for makeup make sense. They fit nicely with your niche and wouldn’t seem out of place to your reader.

An affiliate link to a new computer? That connection isn’t as obvious. While there may be certain situations where it’s appropriate (like if you’re posting a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how you blog), your readers won’t connect the dots as easily. It will look like you’re just in it for the money.

Pick products your ideal reader will benefit from.



Tip #2: Don’t Just Link Drop

Stuffing your posts full of affiliate links isn’t a good strategy. It overwhelms your reader and cheapens their experience on your blog. Instead, have a purpose behind every link you include.

Are you talking about how you use a specific product each day? Go ahead and include the link. Are you comparing two products? Link to both of them.

For every affiliate link you use, make sure it ties into the content and makes sense.



Tip #3: Be Honest

No one wants to read a gushing, over-the-top review. There are pros and cons to everything, so many people don’t trust that perfect reviews are genuine. Honestly talk about the product. Share what you love, what you like, and what you wish were different. Or share who might really benefit from this product and who probably won’t.

This honesty helps your readers learn to value your opinion. It helps them learn to trust you. And if you gain their trust, you will earn a lot more from the products you recommend.



Tip #4: Know Your Readers

If you want to succeed as an affiliate marketer, you must know your audience. Understand their pain points. Then find products to solve them.

Also, know their budget. If you only recommend big ticket items because that’s how you earn the most, you might miss spending from frugal readers.

Back in chapter one, I covered creating your reader avatar. If you haven’t done it yet, find time to do it now. You must know who you are selling to, or you won’t sell anything.



Promote On Social Media

You can include affiliate links in your blog posts, but that’s not the only way to promote them. If you disclose, you can share your affiliate links on your social media channels. This includes both your business pages and your personal ones.

Just remember, no one likes the annoying salesperson. Don’t let your feeds get bogged down with affiliate links. Instead, include this type of link in your rotation to keep a variety going.

Here are two ideas for wording that don’t sound super salesy, and still offer some personal insight or value:

My kids love playing with Jenga blocks while I work. They’ve been building towers, making letters, and creating tunnels for their toy cars. While they play, I get some quiet minutes to knock out a blog post. Win-win! See if your kids love it as much as mine do [insert affiliate link, and disclose by stating this is an affiliate link or by using #afflink].

Throw a picture in to make it even more personable.

Are you thinking of starting a freelance writing career? This course by Gina Horkey was the best investment I made in my business! What do you have to lose? [Insert your affiliate link and disclose.]

Make sure your content matches the platform. If you’re trying to use an affiliate link on Pinterest, make a pin that your readers will click on. On Twitter, use relevant hashtags. On Facebook, tag the company or brand.

And always, always, always disclose that it’s an affiliate link.



Promote To Your Email List

You can include affiliate links in the emails you send your subscribers. Well, usually. There are exceptions.

Including Amazon affiliate links in your email violates their terms of service. This includes sending out your blog post via RSS feed to your readers. If your readers can click on an affiliate link from your email and wind up on Amazon, you are in violation and risk losing your account.

Other companies may have similar policies. The fine print is important. Ignorance is no excuse. Take time to learn how you can promote your links.

As long as email marketing is permitted, you can include a properly disclosed link or two in your regularly scheduled newsletters.

Just don’t let affiliate links take over your emails. No one wants to read that, and your unsubscribe rate will spike.



Promote Using Video

Another idea is to create a video review of the product and include your affiliate link in the comments.

Are you doing a Facebook Live? If you talk about a product in it, include your link in the comments there, too. Remember to disclose.

Video content is shared more frequently; it’s a great way to bring more viewers to your content.



Promote Within Your Products

Are you creating an ebook or a course? If an affiliate product is a good match, include the link.

Of course, you must check the terms and conditions again. This wouldn’t work for Amazon links. That’s because you can’t include Amazon links anywhere but on social media and on your website.

Including links in your products will work for many other affiliate programs. As before, read the fine print so you know what’s allowed.

And you can always link to a resource page on your blog, which then provides the Amazon affiliate links for your readers. This is a workaround that many bloggers use.

Even if you aren’t creating a product, a resource page is another way to promote affiliate links on your blog.



Go Back Through Your Old Content

If you wrote any blog posts before you were an affiliate, go back through them. Read your old posts and look for opportunities to update them with your affiliate links.

Perhaps you need to add another paragraph to tie it in. Or add another section to the post.

It’s worth taking the time to do, especially on your top-performing posts. Find out which posts are bringing you the most traffic and monetize them.

You really can earn money promoting other people’s products. It’s a monetization strategy you can start quickly. And it makes a great first step in monetizing your blog.

You can do this. And the feeling when that first deposit makes its way into your account is amazing.



Action Steps

1. Decide whether you want to use affiliate links to monetize your blog or not.

2. Pick 5 to 10 companies to become an affiliate for, and research their affiliate programs (you can add more over time, but this is a good number to start with).

3. Apply to become an affiliate for these companies.

4. Make sure your blog has a disclosure page (see chapter four).

5. Weave an affiliate link into your next blog post.

6. Create a social media update about an affiliate product and include the link (remember to disclose).

7. Go back through your old content and look for ways to include affiliate links.

In this chapter, you learned the building blocks of affiliate marketing. If you’re ready to go deeper or want to make affiliate marketing your main focus, check out our companion title Make Money From Affiliate Marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a great starting point for earning money from your blog. In the next chapter, you’ll learn another strategy for monetizing—by offering products that you create.