How to be Successful at Affiliate Marketing
Whether you are a brand new blogger or a seasoned hobby blogger who is looking to monetize (or even if you’ve tried monetization with limited success), there is one strategy you need to be using: Affiliate Marketing.
If the idea of marketing leaves you with the image of making dozens of cold emails (or worse calls!) and your response is to shudder, allow me to dispel that image. Affiliate marketing is not that sleazy old-style marketing-it is relatively passive. All you are doing is recommending products and services that are relevant to the blog posts your publishing. When your loyal reader clicks on that link and buys what’s on the other side, you get a nice little sum of money as a thank you.
However, it is not just as simple as joining a few networks and slapping up some links. Read on to learn how to use this strategy to achieve your financial goals successfully.
Affiliate Marketing As Passive Income
A bit of a disclaimer here, a lot of people bandy about “passive income” as sort of one of those things that makes money for you while you sleep. It certainly can, but you need to do some work first. I insert affiliate links in my blog posts, they are not generally by accident, and they are relevant to the post material. For example, you won’t find a link to Create for Less in a post about blogging because as excellent as Create for Less is for finding crafting supplies, they aren’t helpful to someone who is looking to start a blog or level their blog up.
You still have to write the blog post or the case study to plug your relevant affiliate offer in! Once you write your post, you then have to advertise that blog post or resources page, so people find it. However, once you’ve done that effectively, those links can make you money for years to come without any additional work.
So I always say affiliate marketing is passive in the sense you don’t require any additional work beyond the usual effort you put into your ordinary blog posts.
Some Important Things to Note Before Starting Out
There’s a couple of rules you have to follow, and depending on what networks you join, there will be specific rules.
You Must Disclose
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States (as well, many other countries have similar legislation) requires you to disclose all your affiliate links. The way I do it here on my blog is that I put a link to my disclosure at the top of any page that contains links and then right beside the link on the page I’ll write in brackets “affiliate link,” or something similar.
Always Check Your Agreements
A popular way to loop in affiliate marketing is to offer your own offering to sweeten the pot, but certain programs don’t allow that. For example, I am a proud SiteGround affiliate, but you cannot offer something else with that offer. So I never include SiteGround in any personal offers I have, but you can see my affiliate link (In banner form mostly – see the sidebar for one example) in a few spots around the blog because they are amazing and I see value in sharing that with anyone who will listen!
It will save you a lot of time and frustration to make sure you understand your agreement before you proceed with providing your own offer with an affiliate offer, which absolutely can “sweeten” the pot and get someone to buy.
You Must No Follow
You should always add a “no follow” link to all your affiliate links. It’s simple to do that manually; you add no follow tag to your link. For example, a no follow link would look like:
<a href=”https://www.affiliateurl.com” rel=”no follow”>Check Out My Affiliate Offer</a>
When a search engine reads your links, it likes to index what type of links you have available as well as your content for SEO. It will “follow” those links to see what content you are linking on your site. If you have too many sales type links, you will be penalized by not showing up on google (or having a low ranking). By adding the “no follow” tag to your links you are telling search engines “don’t follow this link please.” You can read about that further on this post from AJDG Solutions.
So How Can You Make Money?
Well, like all things blogging, your ability to make money on affiliate marketing will depend on your traffic numbers and the promoting you do with the posts that have these links in them.
Full disclosure, I have not made gobs upon gobs of money, but there are many people out there who have (such as Michelle Schroder-Gardner who teaches a course on it). However, my goal with affiliate marketing is to support the cost of running this blog with it completely, and I feel that I’m on track for that.
So precisely what strategies work well to boost your earnings?
Targeted Blog Posts
Siteground has a few sales throughout the year. They are great about telling their affiliates about these sales and suggestions on how to get more sales. I aim to do targeted blog posts around these events and will add a few extra promotional social media posts around this time too.
I recently became a proud Ultimate Bundles affiliate as well, as I thoroughly enjoyed their Genius Bloggers Toolkit a year or so ago and have no qualms about recommending their bundle products to my loyal readers. They aren’t just about blogging either, I also purchased their essential oils bundle and am presently working my way through all the goodies I snagged with that one! When they have new bundles, you can bet you’ll see the odd blog post that gets published outside of my usual Sunday posts.
Use Social Media
Always follow the ground rules above, but with certain affiliate programs, you can use social media for advertising. If you’ve checked your agreement and nothing is barring you from doing so, go ahead and engage your followers with some content that includes some affiliate links (Like with your blog posts though, you must disclose them!).
Disclosing affiliate links varies on the social platform, you can check out this detailed post from Robbins Interactive for tips to keep yourself out of the FTC’s crosshairs.
Do you have an ebook that you offer to subscribers who pay? You can use affiliate links in these if they make sense to do so. Readers will not trust you if you senselessly use links without any care to how relevant that link is to the material they are reading. Not every program you join will permit this, so use this tactic with caution.
Once again, if it’s relevant and if this link will provide your reader with value (and you’ve followed the rules above), go ahead and share affiliate links in your email campaigns to your subscribers.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to expand your bottom line as a blogger. My philosophy is that if you’re writing the blog post anyway and there’s a product or service that will provide an added value to your readers, why not plunk that link in and make a little money for your hard work?
I hope you enjoyed this look at affiliate marketing and if you did, please share this with your network or leave a comment down below. You can use one off the share buttons off on the side or pin this content to Pinterest!
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Next week I’ll be writing all about how you can go about choosing a light fixture for a room! If you’re looking to illuminate a room, be sure to tune in then. Until then, stay crafty my friends!