If you are wondering how to make money with your blog, consider affiliate marketing. This is an effective way to earn an income even if you don’t yet have products of your own. Read this post by Beth Bauer (@JourneyofBethB) to learn the basics so you can start your own affiliate marketing campaigns.
Bloggers and webpreneurs made an astounding three billion dollars last year in affiliate marketing alone. Everyone is talking about it. Do a google search for “affiliate marketing” and hundreds of links pop up. Everyone wants you to sell their product or to join their program.
Do proceed cautiously. Just like anything else, it takes time to learn the ropes and even longer to see the results of affiliate marketing.
But bloggers, writers, and authors can make money as affiliate marketers. Let’s discuss how you do so and, in the process hopefully reduce the time you need to get started and succeed.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
First of all, what is affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is when you are rewarded monetarily for helping to sell other companies’ products or services. For me, it all started out as an agreement with a yoga school in India. I would receive free yoga instructor classes in exchange for promoting their ashram on my blog. Although I didn’t make any actual money, I earned over $1,400 in classes and accommodations. The same principle can bring you cash, and a lot of it.
You can think of affiliate marketing as referral marketing. Or see it as endorsing a product or service you think your readers need or will enjoy—and getting a financial reward when one (or more) of those readers decide to heed your advice and make a purchase.
Why Do It?
There are two main reasons you should consider getting involved in affiliate marketing. The first reason is to make money. The second is because it can lead to other opportunities.
I have a friend that was so successful at affiliate marketing with a partner that that company hired her to run their entire affiliate-marketing program. Your work with others can open the door to all kind of opportunities and give you and your blog more exposure.
Different Types of Affiliate Marketing
There are different types of affiliate marketing. You can add banners and pop-ups to your site and get a few cents for every click. AdWords is an excellent example of this type of affiliate marketing.
You also can mention products or services in your blog posts, but be careful with this because ethically you may want to mention that you are a sponsor or the links contain affiliate tracking. Many bloggers become Amazon affiliates, for instance, and use an affiliate link when they refer to a book in a post.
Consider having a resource area on your site where you provide links and descriptions to some of your favorite products and services.
How to Get Started
If you are considering affiliate marketing, begin by thinking about what types of products or services correspond to your niche. If you have a travel blog, for instance, consider partnering with companies that sell travel-related products and services, such as travel insurance, backpacks, or hiking boots. If your blog is about pets, promote pet-related products like doggie diapers, pet-stain remover, and dog shampoo.
Contact the companies and find out if they have an affiliate program. If so, sign up. You will then be given access to links that contain your unique affiliate ID, and promotional materials to share, such as tweets, emails, and images that contain your affiliate link.
Do the Work
Affiliate marketing can be a lot of work. First, you must research the company. Then, you have to apply for their program or send them a proposal (if they don’t have a formal affiliate marketing program). You also have to share your bank or PayPal details so they can pay you. Next, you have to get your unique links. If you are running ads or banners, you’ll need to add the links to your site using plug-ins or other methods. If your arrangement involves promotion in a blog post, you’ll need to write it and potentially send it over to them for approval before you post it.
Sometimes affiliate marketing involves being part of a marketing campaign as well. In such a case, you’ll be asked to send emails to your list and share on social media. You also can write related posts, if you like, too.
If your blog starts to get cluttered with pop-ups, banners, and other companies’ products and services, you might annoy your audience. Or they will purchase these and not your own products and services. So, it’s best to start gradually.
Also, do your research to make sure your affiliate partnerships are with legitimate companies that provide regular payouts. Be certain their products and services are reliable as well; you might want to try them out! The last thing you want is for one of your readers to have a bad experience with a product that you recommended. It could damage your reputation.
It’s not enough to just sign-up and ad the affiliate links to your website. You have to work the program.
Try different affiliate programs and various products and services until you find what works for you—and your readers. Affiliate marketing is not easy money. Just like creating an awesome blog doesn’t happen overnight, neither does a successful affiliate marketing program. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on it, and make sure you are tracking your numbers and making any necessary changes until you find what works.
A successful affiliate marketing program can boost your sales and take your blog to the next level. It can also distract you and clutter up your site. There are a lot of do’s and don’ts when it comes to affiliate marketing, and my next blog post will cover many of these concerns.
Like anything else in life, you’ll get out of it exactly what you put in. It’s all up to you.
Have you tried affiliate marketing? Tell me about your experiences in a comment below.
About the Author
Beth Bauer is a freelance writer, travel blogger, yoga instructor, and entrepreneur currently working on her third novel. She has traveled to over 20 countries in just the last two years and enjoys life as a digital nomad. She is originally from the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.A., and when she’s home lives on the Long Beach Peninsula with her dog, Ozzie.