Every month, I make money with affiliate marketing and since quitting my 9-5 to be a work-at-home mom, it’s become an even more important part of my overall business plan. If you have a blog, you too should be using affiliate marketing as a way to bolster your overall profits.
You’ve probably noticed many of my posts include a disclaimer regarding affiliate marketing and today’s post is no different – the links within may be affiliate links, which means if you click through to make an investment, I receive commission at no additional cost to you.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is exactly as it appears within my disclaimer – it’s an opportunity for you to promote products or services in exchange for commission or part of the sale. You can promote these products or services through sponsored posts, ad images directly on your site, or links within content of your own creation.
When you join an affiliate program, you get a tracking link that’s completely unique to you which you’ll then put on your website. When a reader clicks through to make a purchase, you’ll earn money!
Now it of course sounds a lot easier than it actually is, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today – exactly how to make it easier on yourself to get those readers to click through and to generate nearly-passive income.
Affiliate Marketing Program Options
First, there’s the pay per lead option (PPL). Certain affiliate programs will pay you for a referred visitor, whether or not they make a monetary investment. An example here would be Share-A-Sale, an affiliate platform which pays should I refer people to use it, regardless of whether or not they actually end up using the affiliate links.
Then there’s the pay per sale option (PPS), which is of course much more common. This is when someone makes a purchase through your link and you then receive commission or part of the sale in return. An example here would be referring people to sign up for Amazon Prime.
Read the ToS
Speaking of Amazon and any other affiliate company you work with, you really want to make sure you read over their Terms of Service prior to beginning any sort of promotion. I say “speaking of Amazon” because they are understandably one of the more strict companies in terms of how you can promote. For example, with Amazon, you cannot promote directly via Pinterest or any social media platforms, for that matter. Doing so could quickly get your account shut down and all profits lost.
Along those same lines, you also want to make sure you stay compliant with the Federal Trade Commission’s law on disclosure; basically you cannot put out an affiliate link without first making sure your readers know it’s an affiliate link. Hence my disclaimers being obvious and always before any links.
Lastly, in terms of rules and guidelines, make sure your affiliate links are “no-follow” so that you keep Google happy. “Follow” links are ones often used within things like guest posts to benefit the site to which you’re linking and help them in terms of SEO. It’s essentially you supporting them on your website and saying they’re a trustworthy domain worthy of showing up in search results, which will then result in the “Google bot” following that link to that next site. So “no-follow” links are links within your post that do not directly benefit that which you’re linking to and will prevent a site crawler from leaving your page to go to theirs. Google doesn’t like it if you’re getting paid, or potentially getting paid, and also benefiting the site that pays you. That would basically be like getting paid to say a site is trustworthy and that could get real icky, real quick.
How do I decide who to become an affiliate for?
First, think about the products and services you’re always telling your friends and family about. Even if they don’t necessarily seem like they’d relate to your blog, make note of them.
Then take a look at which of your posts see the most traffic – are there already products or services in there that could be affiliate links? If not, could there be?
As you grow in your affiliate marketing journey, you’ll find it becomes easier to come up with products and services you love that you in turn want to share with your audience.
Along those lines, when working in affiliate marketing, whether you’ve been doing it for years or didn’t even know what it was prior to this article, you’ll only want to recommend products and services that you genuinely stand behind. For example, I actually had a hosting site reach out to me a few months, asking me to be an affiliate for them. Now I don’t host with them nor had I heard good things about them, but they DO pay really well and I can see how that’s a draw for some. Don’t be a part of that some. Don’t let the potential profits outweigh your morals; it’ll only damage you and your reputation in the long run.
I’m an affiliate – Now What?
Download this free worksheet and keep a list of the affiliate programs you participate in. You’ll want to track the company name, the products/services offered, unique links given to you, and any extra special rules (i.e. no social media posts)
Now comes the time to put those links to use!
Some ideas when it comes to affiliate marketing include:
- Posting the links within already-created posts. As I mentioned earlier, take a look at your most popular posts and see if you’re already recommending products or services that you could be an affiliate marketer for. Not sure how to find out? Simply go to Google and type in “(product/service) affiliate” – 90% of the programs I’m a part of were found by doing that.
- Create a gift guide. Now maybe you think that wouldn’t be applicable for your niche, but you’d be surprised! Pick out a quality of your readers (or you yourself) and create a holiday-related gift guide based on that. Examples would be “Top 10 Perfect Christmas Gifts for the Graphic Designer in Your Life” or “5 Unique Gift Ideas for Bloggers” or “8 Fun Gifts for Dog-Lovers!” Check out this post here for a Valentine’s Day example.
- Use social media! Don’t put out affiliate links every single day, but if you’re sharing an article that contains an affiliate link, it would be wise of you to first post the article and then a few hours later, share the direct affiliate link. Stand behind the products and services you love, just don’t overdo it!
- You can also write a tutorial or list. For example, I wrote this post on Overrated Baby Items and Their Thrifty Replacements. It’s a post I know benefits my readers, but it’s also one in which I can plug affiliate links where applicable.
- Lastly, write a review of what happened before/after using the product or service. Personally, I *LOVE* Tailwind as a blogger – like seriously not sure how I’d function without it. So of course I wrote a review of Tailwind and shared not only how it shaved 10 hours/week off my marketing time, but I included my referral link, which gives my readers a free month but also benefits me in terms of commission.
As I wrote earlier, I know it’s one of those “simple but not easy” sort of things. Affiliate marketing is NOT a get rich quick scheme nor does it work for everyone in terms of generating a decent return on (time) invested, but it can net you some extra cash, particularly if you’re seeking financial freedom or simply want to work from home.