How to Monetize Your Blog With Affiliate Links

 affiliate marketing explained - How to make money with affiliate links

Are you using affiliate links on your blog? If you aren’t yet, read on – affiliate marketing can seem a bit confusing at first, but when you get down to it, it’s a very simple and easy way to monetize your blog.

Affiliate Marketing Explained

At its core, affiliate marketing is promoting the products/services of other companies. Your goal as an affiliate is to drive traffic to their websites and, if someone buys something through your affiliate link, you earn a commission (it varies between 1% – 75%+ depending on the program).

You first have to sign up with the affiliate program and you will be given a link that is uniquely associated with you so that your sales can be tracked. Here’s a cool graphic that outlines the basic process of affiliate marketing:

affiliate marketing explained 2

How this works in practice – you create the same awesome, quality content you would normally and, if you are talking about a product or a service, you drop your affiliate link to it.

Here’s an example:

“I love doing keyword research. I especially enjoyed testing out Long Tail Pro the other day. You should totally try it out – here’s a link to the $1 trial

[Note – Affiliate Link Disclosure – You need to disclose affiliate links on each page of your site that uses them. Period. In fact, the more upfront you are about your links the better. This is a great article from Chrissy Watson of Bloggy Law giving examples of how to disclose.]

Is Affiliate Marketing a Legit Way to Monetize My Blog?

Affiliate marketing has a bit of a reputation on the interwebs.

Once upon a time all you needed to do to get to the top of Google mountain was choose your keywords well, get lots of backlinks and sit back and enjoy the money rolling in. Notice I didn’t mention anything about ‘quality content’ in there. Oh no. Any old slap dash, barely readable gunk would do.

Luckily, good old Google gave sites like this a spanking over a few years of updates and now… well, now you have to put in real effort to get anywhere online.

Which is great for the legitimate blogger.

How do you become an affiliate?

There are a lot of affiliate programs and networks out there. A few of the major players are:

  • Amazon
  • ShareASale (an affiliate network)
  • Commission Junction (an affiliate network)
  • LinkShare (an affiliate network)

An affiliate network basically has a huge collection of retailers you can apply to become an affiliate for.Β  So you first have to apply to be a part of the network and then apply to relevant retailers through the network platform. (Its actually quite easy.)

Another way to find affiliate programs is to do a Google search for “your niche/product + affiliate”.Β  Many businesses have their own individual affiliate program that they run in-house. You can apply to these directly through the business.

So, if you find a store online, and you think its awesome, scroll right down to the bottom – often you’ll see a link there titled ‘Affiliates’. Click on it – you’ve just found how to apply to their affiliate program! Win!

Things to Remember

Shop Around for the Best Deal.

Companies that run affiliate programs are often involved in more than one network, or may even have their own private affiliate network that you can join.

Make sure you shop around to get the best deal as you may find you get different commission rates depending on which program you are going through. Don’t forget to check the commission rate for the large department stores on affiliate networks – they could give you a better deal on a physical product!

Know your Terms of Service

I know, I know. I glaze over reading the terms of service too. That’s the main reason I did NOT become a lawyer.

But. It’s kind of a big deal.

The company you are affiliating with may have put some odd conditions in your terms, so make sure you read them. The biggest example of this is the Amazon Associate terms of service. Did you know you:

  • Aren’t allowed to send Amazon affiliate links in your email newsletters?
  • Aren’t allowed to include Amazon affiliate links in pdf downloads or ebooks?
  • Aren’t allowed to pin products from Amazon with affiliate links?
  • Have to disclose on your website that you are a member of the Amazon Associates program?
  • Aren’t allowed to purchase items through your own affiliate links?
  • And much, much more…

 

Reputation

Ah, money. It brings out the best and the worst in people and makes them behave oddly. Just look at Survivor… A few pointers to preserve your reputation:

  • Don’t use ads or affiliate links that don’t make sense with your niche (they won’t be very effective anyway)
  • Don’t try to sell something shady (eg. dodgy info products…)
  • Only use affiliate links for products that you believe in, have used yourself and would gladly recommend.

Honestly, best practice – if you wouldn’t sell it to your mom, don’t sell it to your readers.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Affiliate marketing best practice: if you wouldn’t sell it to your mom, don’t sell it.” quote=”Affiliate marketing best practice – if you wouldn’t sell it to your mom, don’t sell it.”]

Effective ways to use Affiliate Links for Profit (more than 20 cents)

Just because you’re using affiliate links doesn’t mean anyone is going to buy through them. Sorry. Here are a couple of effective ways to work affiliate links into your content as recommended by some of the webs top bloggers:

  • Melyssa Griffin recommends writing tutorial posts based around the product you want to promote. For example, you could write a post showing people how to use ConvertKit to collect emails and send content upgrades to your new subscribers.
  • Ramsay at Blog Tyrant has used the comparison post to great effect. It works like this: you want someone to sign up for product X, let’s say its Aweber. You know that a lot of people will probably be using competitor product Feedburner (after all, it’s what you used in the past). So you write a post about why you moved from Feedburner to Aweber – especially works if you have some good negative points to bring up.
  • Kyle of Wealthy Affiliate recommends in the Affiliate Bootcamp training to write reviews of products and offer your preferred product at the end as the better option. This kind of thing works fantastically well and allows you to capture all sorts of extra traffic via SEO for competitors products. You can work this both ways by having an affiliate link to your main offer and also the products you are reviewing against that offer.

Is it worth your time to be an affiliate?

You may have heard a lot of top bloggers (even those earning good money from affiliate links) talk about how ‘the money is in your own products, not others’. So does that mean that its not worth pursuing affiliate marketing as a way to monetize your blog?

 

How about we let the results speak for themselves?

Matthew Woodward – May 2016 – $21,588.76

Just a Girl and Her Blog – May 2016 – $11,266 (approx – affiliate income is not separated)

Melyssa Griffin – April 2016 – $7,710

Pinch of Yum – April 2016 – $7880.58 (approx – affiliate income is not separated)

Pat Flynn, Smart Passive Income – May 2016 – $89,592.77

By Regina – January 2015 – $2313

I don’t know about you, but I’d be extremely happy to be earning any of these amounts from affiliate links: no launch, webinar or hustle required!

 

So, over to you. Do you use affiliate links on your blog?

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45 thoughts on “How to Monetize Your Blog With Affiliate Links”

  1. Really useful, thanks Cath! Are you based in US and do you have suggestions of UK affiliate? Also, do you know any that work with .com rather than .org as I accidentally used that to build my site! Thanks

    1. Hi Eliza, I’m actually based in Australia, but most of my traffic is US based (so it makes it a no brainer to choose to use US based affiliates). Here are two lovely UK bloggers who you might find helpful when it comes to affiliate marketing advice for your region: https://emmadrew.info/ and https://youbabymemummy.com/ I’m not sure about your .com/.org question? Most bloggers choose to use a .com as .org is often used for non-profit type organizations? If you’ve got a .com you should be fine!

  2. Hey Cath!

    This tutorial was uber helpful! It’s really fun to see income reports from Big Bloggers. This really helps give me that much needed inspiration!

    I’ve just started my Blog. I had another that I had shut down long ago. And I’ve signed up for Amazon Affiliates. It’s so neat to see little change pouring in. It’s exciting.

    And you’re absolutely right. Picking a niche is super important. It works even better if you’ve already established yourself as an expert in that domain because at the end it all comes down to trust. ^_^

    I haven’t yet used the comparison method. But I’m going to thanks to you! πŸ˜€

    Have a nice day!
    Angela

    1. Hi Angela

      I rather like seeing income reports too! It’s very inspirational especially when they’re doing so well with affiliate marketing. It all starts with a little change, and then you can build on that!

      Glad I gave you an idea to try πŸ™‚ Hope it works awesome for you!
      Cath

  3. Hello, Cathy!

    Thanks for these Affiliate ideas! I’m a newer blogger to my own website and looking for tips to increase traffic, etc! Do you have any thoughts about how to “advertise” for guest posts on your blog? Meaning, I would LOVE to a.be a guest blogger on someone else’s blog and b. get people within my mama blog niche to post on my blog as well! Any thoughts on this topic? Thanks so much, Cathy, for this post!

    1. Hi Courtney,

      Probably the best way to do it would be in Facebook groups. I know a few blogger groups have collaboration days where you could post that you’re looking to guest post / host guest posts on your site. You can also use general promo days as well. I recommend creating a page on your site that sits in the top menu and include a form where people can pitch you their ideas. Secondly, send a pitch to the sites you’re interesting in writing for. You might get a great response πŸ™‚

  4. Hi Cath,

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m just setting up my blog and am looking forward to applying this information from the beginning.

    I just wanted to let you know that the link you included to disclosure examples from “Bloggy Law” seems to no longer be active.

    Thanks!

    Carmen

    1. Glad you liked the post, Carmen! Thank you for pointing out the Bloggy Law pages have disappeared… they were my favorite example too! I’ll have to dig up some others.

  5. This is a very insightful post. I am glad I had pinned it so I could get back to it later! You have made some strong points on how affiliate marketing will be beneficial (with examples, I might add).
    Thank you for helping me out on this one. I was on the fence about leaping into affiliate marketing and the only thing stopping me from taking the leap was fear of how complex it all sounds! Thanks once again for simplifying it all in 1 post.

    1. Thanks Maegen! That’s great, Amazon is a huge marketplace and they have a lot of products – you can monetize pretty much any niche with Amazon!

  6. Thanks so much for this post! I am a brand-new blogger hoping to monotenize someday, and this sounds like a good place to start once I start getting good traffic! I especially appreciated the part about actually selling it through your writing, not just having random links here and there because that’s kind of what I thought it was!
    If you ever have a minute, feel free to stop by Enchased Thought! πŸ™‚

    1. Hey Hannah
      Thanks for commenting! There’s a bit of a learning curve with affiliate marketing so I’m glad that you found my post helpful!

  7. I’ve never been too good at selling or presenting something to someone in a way to make them become interested in it enough to make a purchase. Affiliate marketing seems like a good way to make money and seems lots of bloggers are a success with it, but I can’t seem to get one sale or even a peek. Maybe I just need to work on how I present affiliate links. Thanks.

    1. Hey Marie
      Thank you for commenting! I agree, it can be really tough to sell. I’m learning though! Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money from your blog but a lot of it depends on how much traffic you get and definitely how you present the links. It’s not as easy as just putting links on your site!

  8. Hi Cath,

    Great write up and explanation of how to use affiliate marketing. I love affiliate marketing and love writing how to posts. These seem to be my best posts and it helps me show how to use the actual product.

    I also use other types of affiliate posts to explain the affiliate products that I am promoting. I love the fact that you don’t have to worry about creating a product or deal with customer issues.

    Although I do plan on creating my own products as well. I’m still tweaking things to see how to place my affiliate links for the most clicks on my site.

    It’s a constant testing things and tweaking to get the most from the people who visit your site. Like you, I’d be extremely happy to earn any of those amounts from affiliate marketing that you shared.

    Have a great day πŸ™‚

    Susan

    1. Hi Susan
      Thanks for commenting! Affiliate marketing can be a great way to monetize. It’s great you’re testing your link placement for better click rates. I’ve been a bit lax on this side of things!

  9. I do worry sometimes that my blog may not monetize very much. My blog is health based mainly around Mulitple Sclerosis. I do have a question about the best ways to drive more people to your site. Thanks so much for your simple way of putting it…☺️ Easy to understand

    1. Hey Jessica
      Actually, health sites can make quite a lot of money with affiliate income. You are uniquely placed to help others with the same condition, especially newly diagnosed people. If you’ve found something that helps you or makes your life easier, you can share it as an affiliate.

      What was your question about driving traffic? Let me know and I’ll answer it πŸ™‚

    1. Hey Savannah
      No worries! Glad you enjoyed the article πŸ™‚ Hope you’re able to make more money with your blog using these tricks.

  10. Great information Cath! I’ve recently launched my blog and started writing a few reviews with items I purchased, use and love ❀️ and haven’t posted yet due to the amazon affiliate links and my confusion on placement. I was unaware of the terms and will e checking out some of the links you’ve provided!

  11. Renee Jackson

    Thank you so much for all of your words of wisdom. What a very informative article! I’m just about to start my first blog. I have never done this before and am the very definition of greenhorn. Wish me luck!

  12. Hi. I am using several of the affiliate programs you mentioned in this great article. I am only two months in on my blog so no real income yet, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Right!

    1. Hey AJ, it’s always good to be part of a few affiliate programs – keep your options open! Building up trust with an audience takes time, but you’ll be prepared!

  13. Hi there!

    i am not using any ads on my site so that i was looking ways to monetize it and finally the interesting one is here. the way you write is amazing.
    i will definitely implement this on my blog

    Thanks for sharing

  14. Great post! I love affiliate marketing and have been earning $50,000 a month from it regularly just from my one blog. We travel full-time so it makes traveling much more enjoyable when I can take a random day off from the blog πŸ™‚

    1. Hey Michelle, that is an AMAZING amount to make per month πŸ™‚ Affiliate marketing gets a bad rap these days, but it’s so much easier than launching a course (especially for new bloggers!) Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Gennifer. I’m glad you found this useful. I know it can be really overwhelming starting a blog – there’s so much to learn!

  15. It’s great what earnings are, like I would gladly take any of the earnings as well. Pat Flynn has got it made for himself, he’s definite king of affiliate marketing.

    It’s nice of you to share the affiliate links as well, as many people don’t want to share or give away their secrets.

    1. There’s definitely some good money in affiliate marketing.

      I believe generosity and transparency is key to building trust online.

  16. Very informative, put in quite simple terms. I like how you explain it.

    And how do I go about promoting my affiliate link? How do I do that? I mean, there are a bunch of other marketers with whom I can’t compete at all. I must brand myself in order to make a living online, be it affiliate marketing or any other marketing. Is there any way I can learn that?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Arthur,

      Thanks for your comment. You really need to be providing your potential customers with great value before trying to get them to buy from you. It is hard to get started and be successful if you are only thinking about the dollars.

      The best way to go about it is to build a niche website/blog and use your affiliate links naturally for products you talk about and review.

      Don’t think about other marketers as competition – think of them as potential allies and your best source of followers and customers. Other marketers mean opportunities for guest posts, interviews and sharing each others best content. All win here.

      Branding is another matter entirely. If you are very new to this, don’t let the concept of branding hold you back from starting your site. You can always rebrand.

      You can learn all this stuff at Wealthy Affiliate. I’d urge you to give it a go. πŸ™‚

      Cheers,

      Cath

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