This post may contain affiliate links
I see you. You are searching all over Pinterest on how the flip you can finally make money blogging. You’ve heard about affiliate marketing, and seen bloggers making thousands with them? But how are you supposed to get started?
Affiliate marketing is one of my favorite ways to monetize a blog, so let’s break down what it is and how you can implement it on your site!
First, you need to understand how affiliate marketing works.
THERE ARE THREE WAYS TO EARN IN AFFILIATE MARKETING.
- Pay per click. This is when someone clicks on the link you had posted and heads to its corresponding site. It doesn’t matter if this person buys or just browses through, you will earn a certain amount. This is good if you have a huge following where you know a good number of your followers would be interested to take a look.
- Pay per lead. This means that once your reader clicks through and fills out a form, subscription or any other kind of exchange of information, then you will get a payment. They don’t have to purchase the product either for this choice.
- The lastly (and often where you make a larger income), is pay per sale. Simply put, you get a commission on a percentage of whatever sale was made through your affiliate link.
TO FIND AFFILIATE PRODUCTS THAT WILL FIT YOU AND YOUR READERS TRY ASKING YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS,
- What products do I use everyday?
- What is one product I love telling my friends about “in real life?”
- Which products help me run my blog or business better?
- What products would I talk about even if there wasn't a monetary incentive?
These should be associated with the niche of your blog. You need to also really like what you are selling. Please, please, please, do not sell something you do not believe in. Your readers are smart and they will see right through you.
Now that you have narrowed down what you would like to sell on your blog, you need to find the affiliate programs or networks that would work best for you.
Affiliate programs are programs offered by a brand itself while affiliate networks are a library of brands that is handled by a middle man. You do not need to pay to become an affiliate. Apply to programs that are free and compare which give you the highest commissions and the longest cookies.
Once you’ve applied and been approved, all you need to get started is your personal affiliate link for that specific product or service.
When starting with a new affiliate remember to always read their terms. Some programs may have rules that another program doesn’t so thoroughly read each set of terms as you apply.
Amazon's affiliate terms are especially particular!
Here are a few of their terms that stand out in their policy.
- You are not allowed to use a link shortening service. This means not to use tools like bit.ly to cloak your links. Amazon does have their own link shortening service which is allowed if you need a link with less characters.
- You cannot use Amazon affiliate links in PDF’s or ebooks. You know that pretty little opt-in you just spent so many hours on? Having Amazon affiliate links in there is a total no, no.
- You cannot send Amazon affiliate links in email. It seems pretty straightforward but, this one can get really tricky. If you have an RSS setup to send out your most recent post to your email list and you used affiliate links in that blog post, that still counts as sending Amazon affiliate links in email...which is against their terms.
- You cannot make purchases through your own affiliate link. Some programs do allow this, but Amazon is not one of them. They have sophisticated software that analyzes affiliate accounts to detect misuse. You are also not to encourage friends or family to shop via your affiliate link.
Want to increase your affiliate conversions? Download my Affiliate Success Checklist!
HOW MUCH CAN YOU REALLY MAKE WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING?
This roundup of income reports shows how over two dozen bloggers are monetizing their sites with affiliate links, but here are a few to give you an idea.
- Monica of Redefining Mom made $280 in affiliate sales in September 2016.
- McKinzie of Moms Make Cents (aka yours truly 😜 ) made over $1,200 from affiliates on her new blog in September 2016.
- Rosemarie of The Busy Budgeter made over $18,000 in affiliate sales in August 2016 .
- Michelle of Making Sense of Cents made over $56,000 in affiliate sales in September 2016 (if you want to check out my interview about affiliate marketing with Michelle, click here).
- Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income made over $100,000 in affiliate income in September 2016.
As you can see affiliate income has insane potential.
I have had an amazing experience promoting affiliates. I get to share products that I truly love and earn a commission at no additional cost to my reader. Oftentimes, they actually get a special bonus if they purchase or sign up through my link!
So far affiliate marketing sounds like a dream, right? I think it is pretty great, but let's cover the pros and cons.
THE PROS & CONS OF AFFILIATE MARKETING
The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you can start from day one and you don’t have to worry about creating your product or searching for new clients.
If you don’t have the time and money to create your own product, this is a great way to monetize your site.
Another benefit of affiliate marketing is it’s potential to generate passive income. Your oldest blogs still earning months, or even years after it was posted!
You can post affiliate links in social media like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
And don’t forget about using affiliate links on Pinterest! Pinterest is a huge selling platform that you should take advantage of. Pins on Pinterest have the longest lifespan compared to other social media platforms and you could be earning for months or even a year just from one post alone. You can also include affiliate links in your newsletters (where the program’s terms allow) to your subscribers where your target market is more concentrated.
The downside to affiliate marketing is that it’s not a guarantee success overnight.
Don’t expect that once you hit publish on an awesome new blog post that you will immediately start generating commissions. These things take time, repetition and practice. It is easier said than done, but once you get the ball rolling, so will your income.
Many programs take a month or more for your commission to be paid out, so there will be a delay in receiving your payments. Overall, affiliate marketing isn't for you if you are just interested in a "quick buck." Developing a steady stream of income from affiliates takes practice and patience.
Affiliate marketing requires you to make the right selective choices and to know who you are and your target audience. It’s not just selling for the sake of it. Your links should be constructed around your blog.
It is tempting to post as many links as you can but I want you to have one key product you are promoting in each post. Slapping up a dozen different affiliate links will just distract the reader (unless it is a roundup post, but that is a topic for another day). Focus in on the benefits of one specific product and how you use it in your life. This will dramatically increase your conversions.
Ready to boost your blog's income? Grab my Affiliate Success Checklist for higher conversions!