By Ashlee Anderson
There are a lot of ways to make money online. You can start a blog, open an Etsy shop, take part in Amazon FBA, or even offer information products like eBooks or courses for sale. Plus, you can sell services as a freelancer or use popular sites to earn extra money each month as a usability tester, search engine evaluator, or survey taker. When you think about it, there are quite a few ways to make an online income each month.
But, perhaps one of the most popular and sought after ways of earning an online income is affiliate marketing.
What is affiliate marketing, exactly?
Generally speaking, affiliate marketing gives you a chance to make money by promoting other people’s products. When you refer a person to a site, you may get a commission if they purchase something or perform an action, like click on a link or sign up for a service.
And this is becoming a favorite online marketing technique for both advertisers and affiliates. Why? The seller makes a sale they otherwise may not have received, and you get a piece of the earnings – win, win.
Who can make money with affiliate marketing?
A lot of bloggers use affiliate marketing to contribute to their income. Some even take home more than $40,000 each month from affiliate sales alone. But these bloggers typically have a large and loyal audience – something that can take a lot of time, energy, and effort to build.
But, what if you’re not interested in starting a blog or maintaining a website? Does this mean you can’t get a slice of the affiliate marketing pie? Absolutely not! In fact, there are plenty of opportunities to earn money online as an affiliate marketer – no website or blog required.
Instead of using affiliate links as a blogger, you could monetize your online presence on social media. Many social networking sites allow users to place affiliate links within posts, profiles, and updates. This means you can use popular social sites with millions of active users on them to promote products as an affiliate.
Your page could be about any subject you have an interest in, but the three most profitable niches involve topics like health, relationships, and money. Choose a topic you enjoy and start building an active audience by sharing relevant information people will love. Once your page starts growing, consider using an affiliate program, like Amazon Associates, to start promoting products you know your audience will enjoy.
Let’s say you started a Facebook page devoted to all things yoga. You could use the Amazon Associates Program to recommend yoga gear, clothes, or books that people would genuinely like and benefit from using.
Side note: Make sure you're in compliance with Facebook's Branded Content Policies.
Other social sites
Facebook isn’t the only social media site that allows affiliate links. You could also use Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram to make money as an affiliate marketer. But remember, since you don’t technically own your social media accounts, you need to follow the rules each site has regarding affiliate links. And, as a general rule, you shouldn’t only be posting, pinning, or tweeting affiliate links alone. Instead, focus on the quality of content first and only include affiliate links when they add value to the information you’re sharing.
HubPages is a popular revenue-sharing site. Users create ‘Hubs’ that are filled with useful content, videos, polls, and other category-focused information. There are hundreds of topics to choose from, ranging from art and design to weather, making HubPages a great option to try your hand at affiliate marketing in a subject you’re familiar.
On top of flexibility in sharing, HubPages has affiliate programs built right into their platform. As a ‘Hubber,’ you can easily take part in the HubPages Amazon Program and their eBay Program, too. This means you can create hubs that are almost instantly set up to be monetized!
Remember, HubPages is built on user-generated content. So, the better the content you create, the better your chances of attracting an audience. And as you grow an audience, you’ll stand a greater chance of making money as an affiliate if you’re sharing genuinely helpful content that links to products readers will like.
If creating written content isn’t your strong suit, consider starting a YouTube channel you could use as an affiliate marketing platform. Some of the most successful YouTubers earn millions of dollars each year using a combination of sponsored videos, affiliate sales, and advertisements.
But when you’re just starting out, you won’t have as big of a following as these users. So, you’ll need to focus on providing genuinely useful content that will help build an engaged community. After all, there’s no point in creating videos that people won’t watch.
One of the most natural ways to include affiliate links on YouTube is to do honest product reviews. Let’s say you start a YouTube Channel focused on fitness. You could create videos reviewing products like Fitbit, exercise equipment, and other gear people who work out would find useful. Then you could link to the product on Amazon and potentially earn a commission if someone makes a purchase.
Affiliate marketing programs
There are many different affiliate marketplaces out there like Commission Junction, Shareasale, and Rakuten. These marketplaces bring together advertisers with affiliate programs and publishers, like you, who are looking for products to promote.
To join these platforms, you’ll need to meet certain criteria first and often must apply to specific affiliate programs before you can start promoting products. Sometimes, an advertiser may not approve your application if you don’t have enough content, the things you’re sharing aren’t relevant, or you’re just not fully established yet on your chosen platform. You may want to wait to apply to these programs until you’ve been up and running for a while and can demonstrate you’ve built a spam-free, quality resource from which advertisers will benefit.
A more beginner-friendly option to earn money as an affiliate marketer, without maintaining a blog or website, is through Amazon. And, as previously mentioned, the Amazon Associates program works well with many non-blogging platforms. Plus, their tools make it easy to integrate your unique affiliate links into the content you share, whether you’re making a YouTube video or posting a social media update.
The application process is quick and easy and, unlike the other affiliate sites, you don’t have to apply to any third-party offers. Once you’re accepted as an Amazon Associate, you can start promoting the millions of products sold on the world’s largest online store which includes everything from eBooks and electronics to home appliances, pet supplies, and everything in between.
Affiliate marketing best practices
No matter where you decide to promote affiliate links, you should always do so with best practices in mind. This means providing valuable content first and foremost and only including affiliate links when it makes sense. It’s also a good idea to use affiliate links on occasion – not everything you create should be for the sole purpose of making a sale.
Remember, even if you choose not to start a blog or website, you’ll still be building an audience as an affiliate marketer. This means you’ll need to follow Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules that specify when you need to inform your readers that you have an affiliate relationship with particular advertisers.
By following the FTC guidelines and sharing valuable content with your audience, you’ll be able to gain trust and credibility. And when you develop a reputation of being a reliable source of relevant information, your audience will naturally value your opinion and take notice when you recommend products to them.
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Ashlee Anderson is a freelance writer, blogger and gig economy enthusiast who enjoys the freedom and flexibility of working remotely. After starting a note taking business in college, she’s continued to work for herself as a solopreneur ever since. Today, Ashlee continues to embrace solopreneurship and the endless possibilities to make money as an independent worker. She encourages others to ‘think outside the cubicle’ so they too can find happiness in working on their own terms. Follow along with Ashlee over at Work from Home Happiness where she shares plenty of practical advice, ideas, and beginner-friendly ways for freelancers, solopreneurs, and remote workers to use their existing skills and experience to earn a living from home.
This post includes affiliate links. Please be aware that we only promote advertising from companies that we feel we can legitimately recommend to our readers. See our disclosure policy for further information.