Since the start of my blog, I've dabbled with affiliate marketing. But it wasn't until two years into my blogging journey, when I lost one of my income streams that I started to get serious about making more money with affiliate programs.
If you'd like to make more money with your blog — here's why you should consider affiliate marketing and everything you need to know.
What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work?
For those of you who are not familiar with affiliate marketing, it is an online system where an individual promotes products and services, and for every lead, action, or sale that is generated through your affiliate link – you'll earn a commission.
The one thing that always turned me off of affiliate marketing (in the beginning), was the fact that you the blogger took all the risk upfront. Meaning that you could promote the heck out of a product, and not get paid a dime if no one signed up or purchased items through your links.
But today, I see affiliate marketing in a whole new light. In fact, I rather promote an affiliate program over a straight paid advertising campaign because your earning potential with affiliate programs is limitless, which can make it very lucrative.
Now before you run out and slap up some affiliate ads on your blog, you’ll want to consider these things.
Know Your Target Audience
Many times bloggers start promoting affiliate products that they like, which can work, but you need to focus on what your target audience needs and wants are because their needs can be different from your own. For instance, say your audience is comprised of new bloggers, but you’re an advanced blogger. Promoting advanced coaching for bloggers is probably not going to be your best bet – you’ll want to focus on products and services that assist the novice blogger.
Another consideration to take into account is the price point – what is your audience willing to pay? Believe me; you're unlikely to make sales promoting products and services that are outside of your audience’s money comfort zone. Honestly, it took me a long time to narrow down who my target audience was, but if you’re focused and take the time to do the research, it shouldn’t take you that long to figure it out.
Lastly, you should ONLY promote products and services that you yourself would buy. I personally like to promote affiliate programs that I’ve had a chance to personally review. This way I know that what I’m recommending to my readers is a good fit, and it also helps to build trust.
When you’re looking for affiliate programs to promote, you’ll want to choose ones that pay out a good commission fee. When I first started out, I started promoting products that I really liked and that my audience liked, but they only paid out 10 percent of the total sales. Well, figure the average order size was $65.00, this means that I only made $6.50 per sale. It would take a lot of orders for this to amount to anything substantial. So depending on what your audience’s comfort zone is in relation to the price point, you’ll either need to promote products that have a high price point, or that offer a high commission rate. Do your homework and search around – there are tons of affiliate programs out there. I personally like working with companies that pay per lead.
How to Promote Affiliates
Probably the first promotion route you think of when promoting an affiliate product is the traditional banner ad – and this is a good place to start. But there are numerous ways in which you can promote affiliate programs, and the more you use the more sales you’ll generate. My favorite and most effective method is via email marketing.
But here are some other ways you can promote affiliate programs:
- Write a Review
- Blog Posts
- Newsletter Ads
- Dedicated Emails
- Text Links
- Social Media
- Purchasing Ads on Other Blogs
- Video Marketing
- PPC Advertising
- Facebook Ads
- Host a Webinar
While I don’t suggest using all of these methods, I do suggest using a few and creating a marketing plan for the promotion. Again you don’t want to bombard your audience with the promotion, but instead, offer substance that teaches them about the value of the product or service.
Focus on Quality
While a part of affiliate marketing is a numbers game (how big is your list, how much traffic do you get, what is your social media presence) the best way to increase these numbers is to provide quality content. Always remember to put your best foot forward in everything that you do, from your blog posts to your newsletter content, to your social media interactions. When you take time to focus on quality and building relationships – the numbers will follow.
Use the Tools Available to You
When you sign up for an affiliate program, you'll often be given a host of tools to help you promote the product or service. Be sure to explore everything that is available to you. If you're assigned to an affiliate manager, by all means, use them! They'll know what strategies and methods work best for their products — use their knowledge and expertise to create more effective affiliate marketing campaigns.
Test, Measure, and Track Your Results
I'll admit, this is one area I need to improve on. Most affiliate programs offer detailed reporting, be sure to look at your numbers and evaluate what's working and what's not. Often a simple tweak can make a huge difference in your affiliate revenue. Besides looking at your affiliate dashboard, you should also be analyzing your own stats from your email marketing campaigns, social media platforms, and your blog to determine which methods give you the most bang for your buck.
Follow the Rules
Last, but not least, you need to make sure you're in compliance with each affiliate program's terms of service. Some programs will allow you to promote via email marketing, others, like Amazon, do not. Keep a detailed spreadsheet of all the affiliate programs you belong to and what methods of promotion are allowed. Not following the rules could get you banned from a program — which means you've lost a source of revenue.
Along with following each company's terms of service, you'll also need to disclose your affiliate relationship in your marketing campaigns. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has strict rules on how this should be accomplished. Failure to disclose your affiliate marketing relationship can result in stiff fines and penalties.
How Much Money Can You Earn with Affiliate Marketing?
Here on The Work at Home Woman, I diversify my blogging income in four ways:
Out of these four revenue streams, affiliate marketing makes up the biggest piece of the pie!
Want concrete numbers?
Here's what some other bloggers are earning with affiliate marketing per month!
- Justine Grey – Create HYPE – $5,500
- Abby Lawson – Just a Girl and Her Blog – $27,000
- Michelle Schroeder – Making Sense of Cents – $50,000
- Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income – $105,0000
Ready to make more money with affiliate programs? Be sure to check out this article from Inkwell Editorial, she interviewed 22 affiliate marketers about how quickly they were able to make their first affiliate sale.
What is your experience with affiliate marketing? What are some of your favorite affiliate programs? Drop us a note, we'd love to hear from you.
Originally published September 21, 2012. Content updated May 1, 2018