Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you click that link and subsequently make a purchase, I will earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Have you ever read any blog income report of successful bloggers or influencers to find out how do they make money?
I did that when I started blogging for the first time.
Then you must be definitely noticed that they earn a good percentage of their income from affiliate marketing.
Now you may have many questions in your mind like:
- What is this so-called affiliate marketing?
- How does it work?
- How to make money from affiliate marketing?
- How much money can I earn from affiliate marketing?
In this post, I am going to share with you what is affiliate marketing, how to start with it and tips to make money by promoting affiliate products.
What is Affiliate marketing?
It is a process of earning a commission through promoting and selling a company or individual’s product.
In simple words, you refer a product you like to your reader and earn a commission when your reader purchase it through your link.
This is a win-win for
You – because you earned a commission
Reader – learned about the product from you and invested on it
The company – they have a new sale
Why Should You Learn Affiliate marketing as a blogger?
Affiliate marketing is the most simple and lucrative way of making passive income.
As per my opinion, here are the three compelling reasons for bloggers to start affiliate marketing:
- You can monetize your blog from the first day. You can profit from your blog sooner than you would if you created your own products from scratch.
- You can learn what types of products your audience is demanding for. It helps in reducing the risk of your future product launch.
- You can get your readers used to the idea of buying from you — and increase their level of trust (as long as you pick the right products and services to sell).
But that’s not all. There are additional benefits to affiliate marketing as well:
- It’s low-effort and low-risk Blog monetization method. While affiliate marketing isn’t exactly passive income, it doesn’t require a significant time or money investment on your part.
- It’s easy to implement. You just share a link with your readers and that’s it. You don’t have to worry about tracking sales, providing customer service, setting up payments, or anything else. All that support is handled by the merchant.
- Your earning potential is unlimited! Meaning you do the work once and can continue to make commissions on the product for years.
- You have full control over what kind of products you want to promote.
- You’re selling a product that is already popular in the market, therefore proven as sellable.
- You can track the sale, so it is easy to improvise the strategy.
- No minimum page views required to join.
Do I need a blog for affiliate marketing?
While you don’t absolutely need a blog for affiliate marketing, having a blog is by far one of the easiest and most profitable ways to make money from affiliate marketing.
Without a blog, you might have trouble getting approved for some affiliate programs as well.
If you don’t already have your own blog, make sure check out my step-by-step guide to starting one in less than an hour.
Starting a blog is easy and you can set up your own site for less than $4 a month! Here is my full tutorial on how you can set up your blog in 20 minutes.
How do affiliate commissions work?
There are three ways you can earn your commissions:
- Percentage of the Sale: This is when you receive a set percentage of the sale of the product. Before you join the affiliate program, it will tell you the percentage amount. You’ll find that percentages will be higher for digital products (around 25% – 50%) as opposed to physical products (around 4% – 8%).
- Commission Per Lead: This is where you get paid a fixed amount when the company or product you’re promoting acquires your customer as a new lead. That is, signing up for an account but didn’t necessarily purchase. Eg:- Shareasale pays you $1 for every lead you refer that signs up to the company.
- A Fixed Amount: This is where you will receive a set commission regardless of how much the product costs. This agreement is made in the beginning when you join the program, and is usually quite a good amount. i.e Siteground offers $50 commission on any hosting plan that’s purchased through your link.
What is an Affiliate Link and how are affiliate links tracked?
An affiliate link is a unique Link the merchant gives to its affiliates. It will have a long tag at the end of each link that includes your affiliate ID.
Example link that directs to the merchant’s home page
Example link to another page on the merchant’s site
Whenever you post about the product, you’ll use this trackable link.
To not get penalized from google, you need to make sure your affiliate links follow the “no follow” rule. I use a WordPress Plugin called Pretty Links to shorten my links and also make it “no follow”.
I recommend you create a spreadsheet to organize your affiliate links.
Click here to get my simple affiliate tracking spreadsheet. (Create a button)
How are affiliate links tracked?
Any time someone clicks on your affiliate link, the action is stored by a “cookie” in that user’s browser. An affiliate cookie is a piece of information that gets transferred when someone clicks your affiliate link. If the customer purchases the product, the information transferred is your unique ID which ensures you get the commission for that purchase.
There is a set duration for an affiliate cookie, meaning after a certain amount of hours, days weeks or months, the cookie will no longer be valid. The cookie duration is completely dependent on each program and product, make sure you find out what it is when you sign up.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing: My 5 step process to start and make $1000/month
Before jumping into the process, let me tell you the key point you need to understand in order to become a successful affiliate marketer.
“You’re earning a commission in exchange for giving readers valuable information and insights on products or services they were already thinking about buying”
In other words, your audience is already buying things. They are already going to make a purchase whether or not you give them any advice.
So, the question here is, could you help them make a smarter decision than they could do alone?
Because that’s where you add value. You earn a commission in exchange for helping people make smarter decisions. You use your blog and other forms of content to systemize that process, providing valuable advice to thousands and thousands of people.
Here’s a step-by-step process for doing exactly that.
Step 1: Identify What Your Audience is already purchasing
The first step to becoming a good affiliate marketer is to have a clear idea about your ideal audience and their requirement.
Who is your audience? And what types of products and services is your audience already buying?
For example, this blog, Blogging for Passive Income – my audience is people who want to start a blog and make income on autopilot. They need WordPress hosting, themes, and plugins to create their site, Best Email Marketing Software, Pinterest Automation Software, Landing Page Plugin etc… So, I carefully research all the products in those categories and make recommendations.
Hope you already have a clear picture of your audience. Now let us see how you can figure out what products are they already buying or interested to buy.
You can do it in three ways.
1. Simply guessing – Initially, you might not know exactly what products to promote, but if you think about it for a bit, you can probably guess the major categories.
For example, what do moms of toddlers spend a lot of money on?
My guess: child care, cleaning supplies, snacks, gas, toys, learning/activity books & tools.
2. Ask your audience – You can ask your audience by emailing them or creating a Facebook poll
3. Spy on similar Blogs – Check other blogs in your niche to see what affiliate programs they’re promoting. Check their sidebar, blog posts, and emails.
Step 2: Choose a Product to Promote as an Affiliate
As an ethical blogger, you will have to choose products on the basis of one of the below two approaches.
- Choose products that you’ve used and liked, that have affiliate programs and that are a good fit for your audience, or
- Choose products you can get access to in order to evaluate them, either by buying them outright or getting a free sample or trial.
No matter which approach you take, invest time and money into researching the best products for your audience.
Here are your two main options (the best option listed first).
Option #1: Promote Products You Already Know and Love
This is the most common and easiest way bloggers get started with affiliate sales.
Choose those programs that you’ve already used yourself, had a good experience with, thoroughly tested and feel good recommending. You should be fairly confident that others will get the same results you did (or better), as long as they do the work.
>>Create a spreadsheet and fill it with the products, services and courses you already have experience with. You might have a list of a dozen or more.
>>Then run your product list through this Legitimate Affiliate Product checklist:
- You’ve previewed the product so you know its quality (given, in this case).
- They have a solid refund policy that you trust they’ll honor.
- They provide good customer support (and you’ve tested it).
- You have a good story to share about your experience with the product.
- The offer fits your audience’s needs and won’t abuse the trust you’ve built with them.
The products that tick all the checkboxes are your best opportunities for affiliate income. As time goes on, add as many of these products to your mix as you like.
>>Now simply check to see if the merchant has an affiliate program (some won’t but you’ll probably be surprised at how many do). Most of the sites will have. Check for “Affiliate Program” or “Partner Program” or “Become a partner”.
>>For those which doesn’t have an affiliate program on the site, do a Google search for “affiliate program” + [product name], or simply email the merchant and ask.
By now you should have a list of products you can promote. Apply to join the affiliate program.
For a beginner, his first option may be enough to get you started.
However, most bloggers will want to try the next one, too.
(And you’ll have to explore the second option if you don’t have an existing product you love that is also a great match for your audience and offers an affiliate program.)
Option #2: Find Products via an Affiliate Network
If you don’t have any direct experience with or knowledge of products in your niche that could help your readers, you can often find good affiliate products on affiliate networks.
But be careful while choosing products this way. This method requires you to invest time in research and money into purchasing products to try out.
Smart Tip – Select those products which has a free trial and relevant for your niche
That’s because there are less trust and prior knowledge involved from the outset. You have to do your due diligence to protect your reputation and the credibility you’ve built with your readers.
Some of the most popular and reliable affiliate networks are:
- ShareASale: affiliate programs including Tailwind and Etsy ($50 minimum payout)
- Awin: affiliate programs including Etsy and Godaddy ($20 minimum payout)
- Ultimate Bundles : here are bundles for a variety of niches, including fitness, blogging, entrepreneurship, healthy living, and even travel (you get 40% commission)
- Amazon Affiliates: wide selections for all sorts of products ($10 minimum payout)
- Creative Market: affiliate program for digital products including themes and graphics ($20 minimum payout)
Click to download a list of 400+ affiliate programs to join
Step 3: Join the affiliate program and get yourself set up as an Affiliate
Whether you work directly with a merchant (Company/E-book or Course creator) or through a network, you’ll have to apply and get approved.
You also have to provide certain information so that you can be paid.
At a minimum you’ll need to provide:
- Your personal/business contact information reporting purposes.
- Tax related information
- Your bank account/PayPal ID where commissions will be sent.
In turn, the merchant must provide you with:
- An affiliate link with your unique affiliate ID. Whenever you post about the product, you’ll use this trackable link. It will have a long tag at the end of each link that includes your affiliate ID.
- Tips and useful assets for marketing the product (often found in a welcome guide or on the affiliate reporting site). These could include:
- An affiliate guide as well as instructions on how to use the platform and summary of policies such as payment.
- Marketing tools like banners and sidebar graphics.
- Sample email/webpage swipe copy.
- Ongoing communications from the merchant about promotions, new products, etc.
- If you use a network like Amazon, you’ll get your own link for each of the specific products you promote.
Be sure to check your specific network’s help or support pages for more information.
I recommend you to find a way to organize your affiliate product information.
I use a spreadsheet to keep a track of all my affiliate programs and planning monthly goals and promotional strategies.
Click here to get my simple affiliate tracking spreadsheet. (Create a button)
Step 4: Start Promoting Your Chosen Affiliate Products
At the end of the day, all your hard work finding, testing and evaluating products only pays off if somebody takes your advice and make the purchase.
For that to happen, you need to put your recommendation in front of your audience. Especially, you need to make your recommendation trustworthy.
This is where a lot of affiliate marketers fail. They think to display some banners up on their blog that link to affiliate products is all they need to do.
Does that look trustworthy to you? Nowhere close, right?
Here’s what to do instead:
- Create A resource Page
- Create blog posts and promote it
- Email your subscribers
- Promote On Pinterest
- Promote on Social Media
- Run exclusive Live events
Read my 10 Simple affiliate marketing tips and 7 Under utilized affiliate marketing tips to get more details about the affiliate product promotion methods.
Comply with Legal Requirements (and Best Practices)
Make sure you follow the law of the country where you are located. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that you let people know you’ll earn a commission.
But even if it isn’t required by law where you’re located, I recommend it. It’s just good for business.
Don’t be afraid to be transparent. People will appreciate your honesty and want to support you to repay you for making their lives better.
So wherever you share an affiliate link, whether it’s in blog posts, web pages, or emails, let your readers know that you stand to earn a small commission if they buy through you — and if they choose not to use your link, no worries.
It’s also a good idea to create an Affiliate Disclaimer page on your website.
Here’s an example of my own disclaimer page at Blogging for Passive Income.
Step 5: Track your analytics
Whichever options you choose for promoting your affiliate products, you’ll want to know which are producing the best results.
In order to increase the amount of money you make from affiliate programs, you need to keep track of what works and doesn’t work with your readers.
Three ways you can do this
- Utilize the stats provided by your affiliate companies. It is extremely useful to know how many people click on a link and complete the purchase, and how many people click on it and leave your site.
- Use the WordPress Plugin Pretty Link for this. You can create clean, easy to use and remember links plus get analytics so you can see exactly where people are coming from and what strategies are working best for you.
- Tools like SendOwl has the feature of tracking the no. of clicks.
- You can also use a tool Like ClickMeter to track your links and conversion rate accurately.
That dream you’ve had of making money while you sleep isn’t just a silly fantasy. It’s a totally achievable reality.
The combination of affiliate marketing and blogging is a great way to make money by telling others about the products you love.
When we love something, we rave about it. And of course, we share our opinion with our friends. They take your opinion and buy that product. That’s how affiliate marketing works.
If you don’t have a blog yet, I have written a step by step tutorial on how to get started with your profitable blog.
What are your strategies for making money with affiliate programs? Comment below.
Did you find this article helpful? Share it with your friends.