Have you ever wondered how bloggers make money by writing about things they enjoy? Maybe you saw certain websites that were pretty much one page and that’s it. Why is everyone asking you for your e-mail on their page? The answer is the use of affiliate marketing. How does it work? Here I will try to answer all your questions about this topic.
- What is affiliate marketing?
- How does it work?
- How to get a link?
- How to drive people to your affiliate links?
- Some other noteworthy things
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a term used to cover a wide area of ways to make money by affiliation to a company or a product. You, as an affiliate, are paid to do marketing for the selected product. In most cases, the payment is done after the marketing was successful, in other words, when a person buys a product.
How does it work?
It’s a simple concept, really. You sign up for an affiliate program to a product and then you receive a unique link to a product or service. Your job now is to get people to click on this link with the incentive to buy the product. Every time a person buys the product, you receive a commission from the sale. You also don’t have to worry if they don’t buy the product immediately. The person might just have a look around, but because they clicked on your link, a cookie is saved about their visit. This cookie contains the information that they came to the side from your link. Some cookies last for 24 hours, some 30 days, others a year. There are even cookies that last a whole year. This, just like the size of the commission, is solely up to the company that creates the link.
A practical example
Let’s say I have a blog about art and home decoration. I will write an article about a site I use and like. Every time I mention this site, I put my sponsored link in. So, for example, “For beautiful vibrant colours and unique decoration, I recommend the site Displate.” (Yes the link is sponsored). People will then go to the site and buy stuff thanks to your recommendation.
You can tell sponsored links by usually having a part of the link with some data. In my case with the Displate link it’s the ?art=5b8978b471166 part. This part tells the site that you came from my link.
While we are at it, feel free to look around there and perhaps buy something to support my site if you’ll feel like it. You’ll gain my eternal gratitude. Every affiliate link should be stated anyway by law, so most sites will be open about it and you should be too.
How to get a link?
Option 1: Straight from the source
First, look at the blog or webpage you have. Your brand. Here, you want to focus on what you are talking about on your blog. If there is a product or service you used and liked, put that product in google with “affiliate” behind it. More than often, you’ll find that the company has some sort of affiliate program. Now, if you find the affiliate program, look if the commission is good enough for you. If it is, you want to sign up and fill out all the necessary detail.
Some companies might require you to have an established audience, blog or proof that you cooperated with other companies. If you still want to be an affiliate for those companies, put them on hold. Write them down somewhere into your notepad and try later, when you’ll be bigger.
Option 2: Amazon affiliate
If you have a blog about a creative hobby, instead of recommending other company’s service, you’ll most probably recommend products. Every single time you create something, list the materials you used. This goes for cooks, sculptors, photographers, painters, anyone really. It can be your tools, your ingredients, your paints. If you had to buy something to have a part of your final process, you could make an affiliate link to it. All you need to do is to sign up for Amazon affiliate program. Now, every time you recommend a product that also happens to be on Amazon, you’ll get 10% from every purchase the reader makes. This also applies to other products, not only the stuff you recommended.
Amazon also offers banners and special links that let your reader see the products before they click on them. For example, these are some of my favourite books I’d recommend and that inspired me to start this blog: (if you can’t see them, you might need to turn off the AdBlock for this time)
The links to the products you will recommend will look very similar to these. A picture and shop now button. Review blogs make their living simply by just recommending products they reviewed through these links. You can, of course, make just a normal link. The picture version is optional. In either way, if it’s on Amazon, you can recommend it.
Option 3: Affiliate networks
Another great place, where you can find affiliate programs are affiliate networks. These are websites, that offer advertisers to post their link and details to and then you, as an affiliate, will simply select a product you find the closest to you. You can also check the site of the advertiser if they look professional enough for you to recommend. A rule of thumb is if their website and product don’t look like something you’d purchase, choose someone else.
Some affiliate networks I can recommend are Clickbank, MaxBounty and JVZoo. But you can probably find some that suit you better. I personally used Clickbank the most so I’ll use that one as an example. Once you’ll sign up, look for their marketplace. Here you can find the products you can market to. I recommend studying a lot of stuff about this. It can be really easy to fall into the trap of paying for advertisement to make people click on your link just to find out you spent hundreds of dollars and barely got any sales. I might dive in deep into affiliate networks one day, but not now, as there are books written about this topic and this article is already pretty long. I learned most stuff about these from YouTube, so I can only recommend doing the same.
How to drive people to your affiliate links?
Option 1: Organic content
The most common way for bloggers is the organic way. You write articles about the products, giving people value, the information they expect from someone who used these products/services and then you send them to the link. The more articles get written about this topic, the better your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) becomes. The better your SEO, the higher you will appear in searches. For example, someone would look for the phrase “ways to make money”. Since I write a lot of posts about this stuff, I appear in their search without paying anything. One of the ways might require you to sign into a service I have an affiliate link to.
And so you got organically from your thought, to the search, to my site, to the link. There was no need for me to pay for your visit. All I had to invest was time spent researching and writing the articles. This is basically as passive as passive income can get, as you can land on my page even when I sleep and still make me money if you buy the product I recommend.
I wrote an article detailing this topic better. You can find it here.
Option 2: Paid advertisement
It should be said, that the organic way has one big disadvantage and that is it takes a lot of time and effort before it makes money. There are faster ways and those are paid ads. You pay Google through their Google Ads service and tell them to drive traffic, of exactly the type of people you want, to your page where you have a description of your product and link to it. The only limit here is your wallet. Using this method, you can earn amazing profits really fast, BUT you can also lose a lot of money this way.
To be effective with paid advertisement, you need a lot of experimenting and research. You need to find out who exactly your desired demographic is for the product and aim the ads only to them and even then it might still not be a profitable venture. You generally want to do this technique with a service that pays you 30% commissions or more or with services that have reoccurring payment, like subscription-based services. Again, be careful with this method as it can be a double-edged sword. On the other hand, if you’ll master the way to pinpoint the right demographic for your ads, you can teach companies or other people on the internet as this knowledge is incredibly valuable.
When it comes to paid advertisement, you don’t have to use just google. You can also pay influencers like YouTubers or Instagram pages to give you a shoutout. Oftentimes, this can be a much cheaper way with bigger results. Since influencers have an amazing call to action capabilities since they already have a loyal audience. Plus, if your affiliate link is about a beauty product, then asking a beauty guru to shoutout your product will make sure you’ll get eyes on it by demographic that is already interested in beauty stuff.
Option 3: Mailing list
As a blogger, you should be building your so-called mailing list. It is one of the best ways to make money. Studies over and over proved that a good mailing list can be enough for people to make living out of without the need of doing much else.
But to build a mailing list, you need to first build trust with your audience. You do this by giving people a constant stream of valuable information. Some people offer a free product for signing up to their mailing list.
Once you have a mailing list, you can use it to inform people about new posts and keep them engaged. You can also use these emails to market your products. Be careful though, you should never spam people with useless information or too often. I believe 2 times a week can be fine. Some people do once a week or even twice a month. I am afraid you’ll have to experiment to find the goldilocks zone for you.
Remember, even though it is a powerful money-making tool, your mailing list should mainly give value to your readers and keep them engaged with your blog. A reader that will feel like they are used only as a marketing subject will unsubscribe. Oh, also another note here, a small percentage of people will always unsubscribe when they get an e-mail from you. Don’t take this personally. The person just might not be interested in the topic of your blog anymore. People change and so do their interests. If you get a big percentage of people unsubscribing, you should start thinking about why that is.
Some other noteworthy things
As the last thing, I’d like to remind you that using affiliate links and taking commissions makes you a business and thus you need to tax things correctly. Another thing to mention is that great source of the traffic to your website, and thus your links, can be different forums and websites. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and ask for help. Always check the product you are recommending is worth recommendation and unless you are a review blog, you should mostly promote a handful of products over and over to build your SEO.
And most importantly, you need to show your audience you are a trustworthy person. Trust is built through a lot of time and hard work but can be broken in seconds. Don’t break it! Always check your products properly. Think of your readers first and you’ll see rewards.
So, hopefully now the affiliate marketing is bit clearer and you now know how people make money. This is a very similar act to sponsors in YouTube videos, so if you have a YouTube channel, feel free to promote there as well!
And that’s it! Thank you for getting this far in the article once again. I hope you learned something. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer as well as I can. And if you liked this article, especially the part about the mailing list, then feel free to join mine. As you can see it is very important. Now, have a wonderful day, you beautiful person!