What is affiliate income and (more importantly) should I use it for my blog?
Affiliate income is a marketing-focussed way to monetize your blog content that involves mentioning, reviewing or showcasing a product available for sale somewhere on the web. Essentially you are helping to sell a product you did not make to people who could benefit from it the most. When people purchase from your link (you might mention it on your on your blog, social media or email, linking to it using a unique URL). Once people purchase that product using your unique link, you earn a commission. Think of it like working in sales…without actually having to speak to people 😉
If you take a look at some blogger income reports, you notice that lots of top earners in this space use affiliate marketing. You’ll also notice – and I think this is really important – that the top affiliate earners often have more than one way of promoting an affiliate link. If you want to be successful at affiliate marketing I highly suggest you put a plan in place right away (and hey, I can help you with that, stay tuned and I’ll link to a plan that works!!).
So, how can I start using affiliate links on my blog?
- The first thing you’ll want to do is sign up with some of the bigger affiliate companies. Amazon is a popular one, as is Share-a-Sale. However, I haven’t had much success with either of those. There are probably plenty of reasons (mostly to do with my style of audience) but I think the biggest is that the percentage you get back for each sale is incredibly small. So what do I suggest?
- Look for affiliate opportunities for the exact products you already use and that are bigger ticket items. For example, I use BlueHost so becoming an affiliate for them was a no-brainer! I also use my sidebar as an opportunity to include ads for my affiliates with trackable links). Think outside the box as well (or in my case think about boxes!). If you already subscribe to a product that has an affiliate program (like Fab Fit Fun boxes) why not post reviews and offer people the chance to purchase through your affiliate link?
- Start small – choose just a few top products you want to support. Find out how to sign up for their affiliate program (this information is usually at the very bottom of the homepage of their website), sign up(!!), and prepare to use your unique affiliate link and/or code.
Create Posts That Earn You Actual Revenue
Ta-da! Now that you know how to get started with affiliate marketing, I’m going to take you a step further and give you some blog and/or social post ideas that work really well for promoting products using affiliate marketing!
Firstly – there is an art and science to creating posts that your audience connects with and purchases from. It will take some trial and error on your part but I can guarantee that there are a few types of posts that hit the mark.
1. How-To/In Depth: These are what showed me just how lucrative affiliate posts can be. Something like this post and this post have consistently brought in good affiliate income for me year over year simply by being real and really helpful. They took me hours and hours to write but it was worth it because two years later people are still using the posts, some are purchasing from them, and the content still holds up. Make sure you benefit your audience with how-to posts – not just trying to sell them something!
2. Guide or Round-Ups: Always getting comments on your fancy mugs or kick-ass jeans? Do you know the best place to buy end of the year teacher gifts? Are you constantly getting messages on your Instagram asking where you bought such & such? Create a guide or round-up that you can point people to and fill it with your affiliate links. As I mentioned earlier, these rarely work for me (you’ll likely be using Amazon links) but for many influencers round-ups are amazing source of affiliate marketing. Here’s an example of one that worked well for me in the past: Ultimate Blogger Gift Guide.
3. Reviews: Product reviews are great way to introduce a product and get people to buy. The key to doing effective and lucrative reviews is to actually show yourself using the product and to cross post on Instagram (hello, Instastories!), YouTube, Facebook (ohhhhh, do a FB Live!), etc. Show them the product, talk about you like it, and let them know you can help them purchase their very own! In fact, these do so well on social media that I would strongly consider not writing a blog post unless you are introducing your audience to a new product. When thinking about affiliates I would also strongly consider signing up to be a Shopify affiliate. It has been a lucrative one for me over the years (especially with the onset of the gig economy and the plethora of online sales) and definitely worth looking into!
One last piece of advice (and this is pretty much the most important thing I will say to you): your affiliate posts need to bring serious, serious, serious value. They should be informative, helpful, full of good advice, and (finally) NEVER EVER LIE. If a product is crap then don’t sell it to your audience, no matter how much money you stand to make off of it via affiliate income.
Remember, the key to making affiliate income is that you are creating content that will last, content that actually benefits your audience, and supports products that you would actually use. Once your audience knows that they can come to you as a trusted friend that gives them great advice, affiliate income will become easy. Easy to write content around, easy to incorporate into your social media, and easy to bring in additional income by showing your audience the benefits of something that will actually benefit them!
That, my friends, is the beauty of affiliate income. It’s a win-win-win for everyone!