There are a number of ways to make money from your blog but few of them are as simple as affiliate marketing. Heck, it’s possible to make money marketing affiliate products without a blog, so long as you can reach an audience. Offering products in a number of ways, whether it’s a shop on your blog or a dedicated Facebook page, can give you an extra revenue stream and help your blog do what it’s supposed to: support you.
What Is An Affiliate?
Companies and entrepreneurs with products to sell, from Amazon to authors, know that they need to reach customers in order to make sales. To do this, many offer affiliate programs. These programs allow you and I to serve as marketing middle-men for them while earning commissions from those sales. If your blog or social media accounts have an audience, you can leverage that reach to market products related to your niche or specialty and earn affiliate income.
They vary depending on the affiliate, but each program you participate in will issue you a collection of banners, images, and/or links for their products that you can place within your blog or share over social media. These codes are specific to your account so when a visitor clicks through the link to purchase something, your commission is recorded and eventually paid out according to your agreement.
To protect consumers, there are legal responsibilities that come with affiliate marketing. These include clearly labeling social media posts as affiliate ads, displaying prominent disclaimers on your blog, and disclosing any compensation received from a vendor within your review of their product. Affiliate programs, like the one offered by Amazon, have their own specific requirements, so you’ll need to read the fine print when setting up your affiliations.
If you’re planning to offer affiliate products, you’ll need to set up your disclosure before you start selling. You can find templates and instructions by searching Google or you can use one of a number of affiliate disclosure plugins. The key is to be transparent in your marketing. Let customers know that while they will not be charged extra for affiliate products, these sales help support your blog and the other services you provide.
When reviewing a product, state in the review itself what compensation you’ve received. Your goal should be to share and offer products that you believe will make your reader’s lives better and will help them. When your readers-slash-customers trust that you have their best interests at heart, you come off as less of a salesperson and more like a friend, saying ‘check this out’ or ‘saw this and thought of you.’ But to build this relationship, you’ll have to be honest, transparent, and offer products that are truly worthwhile, not just profitable.
Popular Affiliate Programs
Amazon may be the most popular, but why wouldn’t it be? By signing up for the Amazon affiliate partnership, you can promote products from Amazon’s vast inventory. The percentage you’ll earn differs by product category. Some earn more than others but if you’re new to affiliate marketing, Amazon is a great place to start. Not only will you be able to create affiliate product links for practically anything they sell, Amazon also allows you to create a store of curated items that you can embed into your blog. Paid Write has an Amazon shop in the main menu titled Writer’s Shop. Pop over there to see what an embedded Amazon shop looks like.
E-Junkie has become a popular affiliate program because it serves as a go-between for those marketing affiliate products (you) and the merchants who offer affiliate commissions for their products. The benefit of e-junkie is that you can join and track a number of affiliate programs from one place.
Depending on your niche, you may also want to search for other affiliate programs. Maybe you read a book that you’re sure your readers would enjoy. Instead of using Amazon, which doesn’t pay much for book sales, you can search to see if the author offers an affiliate program. The same goes for companies and products. You’ll be surprised how many participate in this type of marketing. Simply search your niche + affiliate.
How to Make Money with Affiliate Programs
There are a number of ways to use the links and tools provided by affiliate merchants, so it will be up to you to decide which marketing strategies will work best for your audience. Also keep in mind the amount of time you’ll have to dedicate to certain marketing strategies. For example, a banner will only need to be set up on your blog once and then occasionally switched out, if you want an ever-changing home page, but sharing affiliate links on social media will mean scheduling or posting them constantly. If you use a scheduler, like Hootsuite, you’ll be able to dedicate a few hours a week to scheduling posts for the entire week but it will still be an ongoing activity.
Use Your Blog
I’ve already mentioned that you can add banners and ads to your site. Experiment with placement, using your main header area, sidebar, and sliders. Sliders and ads can also be added to your posts, either at the end of a post or within them to break up text.
Another strategy is to create a ‘recommendation’ page, though you don’t have to call it that. Use product images and descriptions to create a page of affiliate offerings (with a disclaimer, of course) that you ‘recommend’ to readers of your site. Then attach your affiliate link to each product so visitors will be taken straight to the affiliate’s purchase page when they click the product. Of course, if you’re using Amazon, you could embed a custom shop on your site as well.
Social Media Marketing
If you have social media accounts for your blog, you can use them to share cool affiliate stuff with your followers and friends. Technically, you don’t need a blog to use this strategy but if you have one, chances are you’ve already begun building a social media audience in tandem. Simply sign up as an affiliate with whatever program(s) you’ve chosen and start sharing affiliate products! Just be sure to label them advertising. Including (ad) at the end of your text is sufficient.
If you want to promote products that are unrelated to your blog, create a new social media account for these products and start building an audience. In either case, the size of your audience will greatly effect the number of sales you’ll be able to make so you may also want to consider promoting your page or account. Creating an ad for your account to run on the platform you’re using is an option but don’t discount the power of a giveaway, just make sure the prize you’re giving away is related to the products you’ll be selling. Giving away an iPad might earn you lots of new followers but if you’re actually promoting pet products or children’s toys, you’ll quickly lose a number of those new likes once you’ve announced a winner, since not everyone who entered is actually interested in your niche. You’re better off giving away something related to your subject matter and growing an audience that’s truly interested in what you’re doing. Also, don’t forget to let your followers know about your blog or they’re likely to be completely oblivious to its existence.
Email Affiliate Marketing
A word of warning before we begin on this one: not all email services allow affiliate marketing. Last I checked, MailChimp prohibited affiliate marketing directly in its emails, though this may have changed. Either way, check with your provider. If you don’t, it’s possible you’ll lose your list and your service. Poof. Gone. They will take it away if you’re found in violation of their terms. Check first to be sure.
If your email service does allow affiliate marketing, you can share products in a number of ways. You could create a daily or weekly email dedicated to one product or a round-up of related products. You could also feature a product in your existing weekly email or create a new weekly newsletter with updates about your blog and a feature product or two.
Reviews of Affiliate Products
Another way to earn affiliate sales is to sample and try products, then write reviews of them for your blog. If your readers trust you, they’ll be grateful for your candid advice when deciding whether to make a purchase. Just don’t forget to disclose your affiliation within the review, no matter how you were compensated. If you received the product for free, say so. If you were compensated in another way, disclose it. Being transparent and forthcoming with this information is legally essential and will also build trust with your readers.
What other ways have you successfully marketed affiliate products? Are you earning from affiliate sales now or considering trying it? What advice for marketers would you add? Let’s chat and, of course, I’d love it if you popped over to Paid Write’s affiliate shop, which is full of cool stuff for writers and avid readers.