This post contains affiliate links
Hey there! Are you looking to monetize your blog through affiliate marketing and have no clue how to start? Does it make you feel like a sleazy car salesman? Today’s post is all about understanding exactly what affiliate marketing is and how you can get in the know about the secrets to making a solid income with it.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing, at its most basic definition, is offering a merchant’s products and services on your blog or social media in exchange for a set commission. Some merchants offer a set percentage of the sale, while others offer a flat dollar amount. One of the most popular affiliate marketing companies (and my favorite) is ShareASale. Now, you’ve read my posts about ShareASale in the past, and hopefully know how much I love working with it.
Affiliate marketing can be a win-win for both you and the merchant you’re promoting. Their products get promoted and sales come in, and you earn cash for simply recommending and advertising their products from your site. Cool, huh?
It’s not a requirement for you to purchase the products that you are promoting on your site, but it REALLY helps provide trust to your readers when they see you using a product you are promoting. The more you use the products you promote, the more knowledge you have that can be taught to your readers to help them become more informed and educated about those products.
My 20 Secrets to Affiliate Marketing Success
Be Selective About The Products You Promote: Promote products that are relevant to your blog topics. I wouldn’t promote health food if I run a technology blog, would I? Don’t just sign up for every program based on the commission rate. If you wouldn’t use the product, don’t promote it
Incorporate Keywords: Most merchants will provide you with special keywords you can use in your posts to help drive search engine traffic your way. If you are having trouble identifying the best keywords to use, contact the representative in charge of the merchant’s affiliate program. More times than not, they will give you suggestions, techniques, and lists of keywords you can use to help you.
Don’t Flood Your Posts With Affiliate Links: Be careful of how many affiliate links you add to your posts. Adding too many will make you come across as a desperate seller who is not interested in anything else but making a quick buck. My suggestion is no more than 1 affiliate link per 1,000 words.
Do Routine Checks On Your Links: Like any website, URLs can change. Performing routine checks to make sure your links work is crucial to maximizing your income. I highly recommend creating an Excel spreadsheet outlining all the posts that contain the links as well as the URL. Organizing your links makes it much easier to make corrections when the time comes. There is also a nifty online broken link checker you can run to give you a list of all the broken links on your site – not just the affiliate links.
Write More Product Reviews: Product reviews translate very well into sales. Google and other search engines really love reviews because they give readers insight into what they are looking to purchase. Reach out to some of your merchants and ask if they have any sample products they can send you for review and giveaway purposes. All of the affiliate sales I have generated have come from products I’ve reviewed and recommended.
Be Patient: Just like with anything, patience is a virtue. Do not expect immediate results. Keep sticking with your business plan and marketing strategy, and you’ll eventually see sales come through. This will not happen overnight. Give it time and it’ll happen.
Add Affiliate Links To Old Posts: Don’t forget about your older blog posts. Look through them and find opportunities to insert affiliate links.
Be Aware Of Marketing Trends: Keep an eye on what’s popular in your niche and what’s selling. Different products perform differently. Some may not sell very well, while others tend to sell quickly. If you find the products you are selling aren’t generating into sales after a while, don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your marketing plan.
Increase Your Audience Size: Reader and subscriber growth is very important in developing a following on your blog. The more readers you convert into subscribers, the more eyes that are going to read your posts. If you are writing high-quality blog posts, those views are going to translate into more sales down the road. Look for ways to promote your posts in the right places. For example, I am a member of many blogging Facebook groups. I also run my own group, Blogger Share and Promo Group. Pinterest is also a steady traffic source for me. I recently invested in Tailwind to manage my pins and ensure I am repinning appropriately.
Network: Affiliate marketing can be intimidating to new affiliates. Look for ways to network with more experienced bloggers to get advice and share tips with you for success. Blogger groups on Facebook are great for networking. Not only do you get the chance to share your own posts, but you get to read other posts and see what’s working for others.
Be Authentic: Nothing is worse than stumbling upon a blog post where it’s clear that the author is just trying to sell you something. You know, those posts that say they are giving you 10 tips for something, but the whole article is split up with ads, teasers, and affiliate links. Don’t be like this guy! Establishing authenticity is very important. If readers don’t see you as genuine, it’ll be the last time they ever visit your blog, and you won’t ever get a sale from them. Be authentic in your product reviews. If you are reviewing an online graphic design service (like I did with my FotoJet review) and you find the service to be terrible, don’t pretend to like it just so that you can convince your readers to purchase it. Be honest, be open, and be trustworthy.
Don’t Promote A Product Only Once: If you really want to establish a solid income from affiliate marketing, you can’t set a link or a banner on a post once and never promote it again. Promote your posts over and over again to get a sustained level of exposure.
Be Creative: Promoting affiliate links is more than just putting a bit of code into your blog, or throwing up a few banners on the sidebar. Get creative with promoting your products. Have an email newsletter? Use it to your advantage to get the word out about your products. Find new and unique ways to get the word out there, and don’t be afraid to shift gears if your current methods aren’t working well.
Tell Your Story: As is true in anything you are trying to promote or sell, making a connection with your readers is critical to gaining their trust. When you are promoting a product you truly believe in, tell your story. Make the product’s value to you as personal as possible. For example, if I were trying to sell someone an iPhone, I would talk about how it’s long battery life keeps me from having to lug around my charger every where, or how awesome the camera is (yes, most of my personal images on this blog come from the iPhone 6!). Giving your personal testimony to a product’s value helps your reader understand how purchasing that product can add value to their life as well.
Be Cautious With Banners On Your Sidebar: If you use WordPress, it’s so tempting to throw a bunch of affiliate banners onto the sidebar. I urge you to be very cautious when doing this. The more ads you place on your site, the slower it will be. You will also come across as only trying to make a quick buck. I have 3 Google Ads in my sidebar and that’s it. When I want to use banners, I put them inside my blog posts, include them in Facebook posts, and use them as images in Pinterest.
Disclose Every Time: You can’t include affiliate links in your blog posts, Facebook posts, or Twitter tweets without disclosing to your readers that they are there, and that if they click on them and purchase a product, you’ll make money off of it. I know that sounds unnecessary, but it’s actually required by the FTC. If you are promoting an affiliate link in a Facebook post, you can write “Sponsored Post” or “Contains Affiliate Links” in parentheses. For Twitter, I usually use #ad or #affiliate. You must disclose each and every time! The FTC can and will shut your blog down. They are focused on protecting the rights of consumers, so if they suspect you are not disclosing, expect for your site to get shut down.
Promote To Family And Friends: Some of the best people to promote your affiliate links to are your own friends and family. Not only will they support you by sharing your posts, or maybe even purchasing something, they are usually very good about talking about it with their friends too. My mom recently bought some books through my Book Outlet affiliate link (this is an affiliate link – BOOM! See how easy that was?!). Who knows, they may share so may times that your post will go viral!
Pay Attention To A Merchant’s Commission Structure: When you sign up to become an affiliate for a merchant’s products, you will have access to its commission structure. Will you get paid a flat rate per sale, a percentage per sale, or only for leads? ShareASale’s affiliate application will tell you exactly what to expect. So read it, or better yet, write it down.
Take Advantage Of Data Feeds: Product data feeds are simply files, usually in a format such as Excel, text, html, etc., that contain all of the information about your merchant’s products. The purpose of these files is to help you promote and sell products. You, the affiliate, can take the information from the data feed and build individual pages for each product, or put more than one product on a page. The advantage to having the data feed information is that you can get your site more exposure through search engines. Most of the merchants you will find on ShareASale will have a tab containing their data feed products.
Have Fun: The more fun you have being creative in the promotion of your affiliate products, the more the fun will translate to your readers. Don’t be boring! Make each blog post interesting and find interesting ways to make your affiliate links fun. I know this is a challenge, but the better you present your information, the better the result will be in the end.
If you have more questions about affiliate marketing, feel free to email me at email@example.com
For more information on Affiliate Marketing, see my other related posts: