This post contains affiliate links. Check out my Disclosure Policy.
Want to know how to get into this whole Affiliate Marketing thing? Let me entice you a little bit. Since early December, right after I decided that blogging is what I’ll do with my free time, I started researching and reading tons of material on blogs, how to promote them, how to use social media, SEO, Pinterest, the whole nine yards.
You guessed that one of the bloggers’ must-haves that kept popping up is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing was in almost every single article that I read! Okaaay, I said, let me see what is this affiliate marketing and why it’s considered to be so important for bloggin’.
Then I started reading, and reading and reading and then reading some more. It felt like I opened a can of worms – it was never ending! WTH?! I felt overwhelmed and almost thought, I’m never gonna get a grip on this! Almost. After all, I have an extensive experience of working in war zones, AND I’m a mom to four-year-old and six-year-old nutcases.
So I sat down with my two old pals, a pan and a paper and, for the sake of keeping my mind, decided to jot down 3 main things that I took from all the reading. It came down to 5 or 8 main things, depends on how you look at it. At the end of the session, I felt much better. I had a little structure, a rough plan and a strategy of where to go with it all, so I thought, I can do this! Affiliate marketing you have nothing on me! Bring it on!
So, let me start from the beginning.
1. What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing, when we talk about blogging and bloggers, is a way to earn money online by promoting a specific product and receiving a percentage fee or a commission once the product or service is sold by a respective merchant. The fee or a charge earned after the sale by a promoter, in this case, a blogger, does not affect the original price of the product and is earned at no extra cost to the buyer.
2. What Affiliate Marketing does?
I learn best through examples, so here’s one. Say, you are a beauty blogger or thinking of becoming one, and you would like to promote beauty products you love and use to your (future) readers. You then apply to an affiliate programme that includes beauty products, say ShareASale is the one I use (more about it later in the post).
After the approval, the programme will assign you a unique link that you will be able to share in your blog posts. With the link, many of the platforms will give you different sized banners and images that you can post in your articles, on your website in sidebars, footers or social media to promote the products and earn yourself money.
a. Earns side, potential steady, income
The next step is to make sure that your post is SEO optimised, shareable, and that your images are as impressive as you are. Now comes the part that scares the hell out of me (if it doesn’t happen): as people start reading, clicking around and liking what they see and read, they will click on your affiliate links too, and one of them will buy that mascara that you raved about in your post. Voila! You got yourself a 10% commission.
10% may not sound like much, and if you expected to get rich overnight, you might as well close your laptop, switch the lights off and find something else to do, because bloggin’ ain’t gonna cut it, babe. Where was I, ah yes, at 10%? My point is, it all adds up. Patience is a virtue. So show up, do your digging, and the sun will eventually rise. It always does.
b. Saves time
Although it takes time to do research and set everything up, write posts, reviews, and create promotions, affiliate marketing takes less time than creating your own product.
If you are not already in the industry of creating and developing digital products and services, then it’s easier to join an affiliate programme with products that you believe in, use and can genuinely promote.
At a later stage, when you get a good feel of what your readers want and need from you, you could work on your own product and use it as a base for creating your own affiliate network.
c. Helps your readers
No matter what niche you’re in when you promote relevant products that you tried and used, you are providing solutions to your audience’s problems. They won’t necessarily have a problem per se that a book or a mascara can solve – but they will have a question, dilemma, need or curiosity about a product, service or an issue that you may be able to resolve with your recommendation.
Offering an excellent product you believe in, to readers that believe you, will make them willing to try this products, service or strategy and come back because of their fulfilling experience. You confirmed that you are trustworthy either for the first time as you gotta start somewhere, or time and again.
3. Why should you do it?
a. For all of the above.
b. For the crack of it. See it as fun. Get out of your comfort zone. At first, I thought, I’m not a sale-sy person, I couldn’t do that. Then, by learning more about it, I realised that this is not a sale gig. Not at all. You directly incorporate the links for your favourite products in your posts. You wanted to write about that product anyway, right? Just like you would tell your friend over a cup of coffee about a new product that you tried.
c. Why not? Try it, it’s already there, available. You have nothing to lose. Most of these affiliate programmes are free to join, and you can leave anytime you want. No hard feelings, no lost earnings, provided it’s amicable.
4. When should you do it?
I went for the ‘sooner’ or ‘straight away’ option. My logic was that I should have links incorporated in my content as soon as I start creating one. The more my traffic grows, the more clicks my links will get and the more commission I will earn. This is in theory and in an ideal world.
For affiliate marketing to work this way, you and I both need to do things right, then do a little tweaking, then do some more things right, then some more tweaking, and so on. But you get it.
5. How to decide what products to promote?
Reading about affiliate marketing, I saw that many bloggers have asked the same question as you and I have. All the answers that I came across were uniformed in one thing, and that is: promote the products that you’ve tried, you’ve known, and trust and you frequently use. Apply this to any niche.
It makes perfect sense. When you promote products based on your own experience then you will be passionate about them, you will know exactly what you’re talking about, and you’ll be able to answer the questions if they arise. These are the key things that will establish you as a trustworthy promoter.
So, I sat my ass down and made a little list of things that will fit nicely with my content at this early stage. The platforms that I chose, are straightforward to join, and they are famous and trusted brands, which also make it easy for people to click on.
Amazon Affiliate was the first one I joined, and it was so easy that I thought ‘this can’t be right!’ At the same time, I was glad it was. When it comes to Amazon, you know it yourself, if you ever thought of buying anything online, it’ll be on Amazon. It’s diverse and any niche you’re covering, Amazon Affiliate will have a product for you to link to your promotion. They are continually adding ways of advertising and improving their service too.
Amazon has strict rules stated in the Operating Agreement (make sure you read it!) that you agree to when you become an affiliate and braking these rules will get you banned from the programme. The two most important ones being a) you must have a visible disclosure on your website, and b) you cannot share your Amazon affiliate links in your emails – this goes under the offline promotion that you are not allowed to make.
I know exactly what you’re thinking, how the hell is email considered as offline promotion?! I thought the same. You can find the answer to this question and other explanations of rules supported by examples in this detailed Marketever article (non-affiliate link) by Al-Amin Kabir. You’re welcome.
For disclosure examples, have a looksy at my sidebar under Amazon Associates Disclosure or check out my Disclosure Policy.
Amazon Affiliate will pay you a commission for anything purchased on Amazon within 24 hours of clicking your link. That means even the product that was not directly under your link. Minimum payout is £/$/€100 via bank transfer or Amazon Gift Cards. No PayPal payments.
Tailwind is a life saver! Everybody is raving about it, and I’ll join in. If you’re focusing on Pinterest, this is a must. Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduling, analytics and marketing tool.
I’ll give you a little insight, while I’m working on a more detailed post about my dear Tailwind. It gives you a tailored pinning plan that is developed based on your feed and then creates the time slots to schedule your pins so they can get you the best results. You can follow your profile and board performance, and you can also track your domain pins to see then and there how it affects your blog traffic.
I recommend you get your free Tailwind trial here, which includes 100 pins but not all the features that can give you real results. However, you can buy a month for month plan, or you can go for an annual plan for $9.99/month.
What’s more, as I was writing this post, I received an email that Tailwind’s Instagram automatic-posting feature is live as of today (February 8, 2018). Fantastic news but wait for it… Tailwind also developed it’s unique Hashtag Finder Tool! Boom! Imagine, no more searching, listing, copying and pasting hashtags, Tailwind does it all for you!
I was always annoyed with other schedulers that didn’t have the automation. I could create a post, but at the time of its publishing, I’d still have to copy paste and authorise it, and I wouldn’t be able to do it there and then – that’s why I scheduled the post in the first place.
Tailwind solved this issue now, and I’m very excited! I bet you couldn’t tell.
Grammarly is a tool that I’m passionate about for many reasons. It is unbelievably easy, educational and fun to use. You can download an extension for your browser for free which allows you to check everything you write, not only documents and different papers but also emails, messages and social media updates and statuses. Even text when designing in Canva!
Grammarly not only corrects your grammar mistakes but identifies the contextual errors too, syntax, punctuation, passive voice, overused words and much more. For every correction, you get an explanation and suggestion as to how to change or improve. It also recognises the wrong use of a word, so although you may spell the word correctly, Grammarly tells you that it doesn’t belong where you placed it. Pretty nifty, right? It has improved my writing immensely, especially when it comes to articles and comas.
You can sign up for different plans with Grammarly. I can’t recommend it enough, and I suggest you try it here for free if you haven’t already. You can stay on the free plan for an unlimited time. If you decide to go for a paid one, you get access to a lot more features, and you receive an extensive weekly report that allows you to follow your progress in accuracy, productivity and vocabulary.
Just recently, Grammarly also introduced their mobile keyboard for iOS and Android.
And then, there is Grammarly blog. Talking about blogs, it is the one that successfully combines educational, useful and entertaining. You can find extensive articles and tips on all-things-grammar, posts on productivity in writing or setting up writing goals, how-to tutorials, articles on workplace communication but also on how to write love letters and apologies.
ShareASale is perfect for new bloggers, and it is, again, straightforward to apply and get approved. They have thousands of merchants and products. All you have to do is search for a product to get the list of merchants that sell it, then you choose the merchant based on different criteria: commission percentage, auto-approval, etc.
You will have to apply to each merchant separately. Some will have auto-approval of affiliates, and for others, you’ll have to apply and wait for them to review your site and give you a reply. This usually takes a couple of days or so.
Once you make your first sale on ShareASale, you get access to their pay-per-click campaigns which increases the earning potential. Payments are made every 20th of the month to your bank account at the payment trigger that you set up (minimum of $50).
SendOwl is an e-commerce platform that tends to be particularly suitable for selling digital products such as ebooks, subscriptions, software, etc. I came across it when I purchased the Get Paid to Pin ebook, a product next on my list. It also allows you to create your own affiliate programmes and become part of others.
I find Sendowl to be extremely user-friendly and reliable. If you have your own digital products, it’s the platform to use. Even if you don’t have a product, create an account with them for free, and it will pay off down the line. Payments are via PayPal. You can check a full review here (non-affiliate link).
Get Paid to Pin is a quick and easy step-by-step guide on how to make money on Pinterest by Coco Dale from Blogdarling. It takes you through all the basics of affiliate marketing and how to set up your Pinterest including the use of keywords in your profile and board descriptions and how to create and promote affiliate pins.
It’s a neat ebook that I read over a cup of coffee and then set up steps I missed to do in my own Pinterest revamp (read about it here). My point is that it’s all super simple to do and you will start seeing immediate results.
What you also get in this precious little read is a detailed strategy of how to create a campaign that you can use down to the letter or as an inspiration to create your own. On top of it, you get two valuable resources, the 120+ list of group boards sectioned in niches and the list of 35+ affiliate programmes also niched out for you. Plus, you earn 40% on sales if you join the affiliate programme!
ShopStyle Collective is a Pay-per-Click platform which means that you earn for every click (sales or not) on your unique affiliate link. ShopStyle is more of a search engine for shopping, and through it, you can access hundreds of top brands in fashion, beauty, home and kids products.
Once you join for free, you can create links, widgets and looks and place them not only on your website but your social networks too and you don’t need to have a website or blog to become Shopstyle’s affiliate.
I use ShopStyle on my Pinterest mainly, at least for now, mostly because it fits better to my Pinterest profile. I have different boards there, and not all of them are related to blogging or self-love and personal development. Also, I like fashion, particularly shoes, hair and makeup, home decor and all sorts. I’m a lady too with diverse interests and what better place to show all that in full light than Pinterest.
I’m still trying to work everything out, and my next step is to keep at it and observe the results. Tweak a little, try and keep an eye on it. There are no recipes, and nothing is set in stone and what works for me doesn’t have to work for you or the other way around. But the idea is to try and be consistent.
You can find all the links to the affiliate programmes on my Resources page too.
This may be an info overload but do share your thoughts with me. Do you have any tips to add?
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Photo credit Sam Beasley & Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash