And in case you think it’s too soon for you to even think about affiliate marketing, let me quickly shake you. That’s. not. true! Affiliate marketing success requires a strategic mindset that is best learned at the very start, even if you don’t have loads of pageviews or anything else. Trust me – it’s much easier to optimize posts now rather than go back to tweak them, so read on and I promise, you’ll learn something of value.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but you can’t just become an affiliate – it’s a process that requires an application. Even once you’re part of an affiliate network, you’ll still need to apply for individual brands within those networks. There are times when you’ll be declined… usually there’s a reason why (lol like that time I applied to hundreds of clothing retailers in anticipation for all the packing lists that I still have not written). Other times, you’ll feel like a good fit and they’ll reject you anyway. That’s the way this cookie crumbles, so remember to put a little effort into your applications and really pick companies that fit your blog.
Alright, I know that was a lot to digest, but if making passive income was easy, don’t you think we’d all be walking around, draped in velvet like the fancy people we truly are? Making money off blogging, passive income no less, is super difficult… and it takes hard work and dedication. With these basics out of the way, it is my genuine hope that you now feel (somewhat) less confused and more motivated than ever to tackle this beast. If you haven’t run away to the woods yet, you might be wondering, “ugh crap what do I do now?”
I promote many products and services, so I wouldn’t want to use my link to market only one. On the other hand, you might be focused and very passionate about promoting one item. You could add your affiliate link—shortened, cloaked or branded—to your profile or create an account specifically for that item. For instance, you’re passionate about writing and want to promote Grammarly, a free grammar checker. You create an account called @awesomewriter and posts writing tips and motivational quotes. Your bio reads, “Improve your writing with this free software app. Click below to learn more. #Ad.”
When beginning your affiliate marketing career, you’ll want to cultivate an audience that has very specific interests. This allows you to tailor your affiliate campaigns to that niche, increasing the likelihood that you’ll convert. By establishing yourself as an expert in one area instead of promoting a large array of products, you’ll be able to market to the people most likely to buy the product.
This is important in the framework of not just affiliate marketing, but in marketing anything online, especially when the products are your own products and you're not just receiving a commission for selling them. Clearly, you need to build emotion around the entire process. In another words, you need to create an emotional attachment to every stage of the sales funnel.
If instant gratification is your thing, affiliate marketing will make you want to run into a wall. Even after you surpass the threshold needed to “cash out”, there’s usually a waiting period before your commission is confirmed/approved, simply because they allow time for people to return goods if needed. So yes, affiliate marketing is by no means a fast track to cash.
First, you should feel free to pin relevant affiliate content to your EXISTING personal boards that are filled with mostly substantive content from other blogs. For example, I will pin a beautiful rug from Target to my personal board called “Rugs and Windows.” That board contains mostly DIY tutorials from other bloggers, but certainly the people who follow it are interested in rugs and window treatments, so they will likely also be interested in rugs that are available for purchase.
This next one is a short one, but it’s a big one. As you probably know (and have experienced!), the holiday season is a huge shopping period—which means it’s also potentially a great time for affiliate sales. The lead-up to the holiday shopping period is an important time to promote your affiliate links, so you might want to think about doubling down on your promotional efforts in the fall.
Amazon Associates is one of the first online affiliate marketing programs and was launched in 1996. The Amazon Associates program has a more than 12 year track record of developing solutions to help website owners, Web developers, and Amazon sellers make money by advertising millions of new and used products from Amazon.com and its subsidiaries, such as Endless.com and SmallParts.com. When website owners and bloggers who are Associates create links and customers click through those links and buy products from Amazon, they earn referral fees. It’s free to join and easy to use.
Plus, leverage Instagram Stories, as they are known to be an effective business tool. They allow placing the links of the promoted products on a video. If a customer taps on the affiliate link, they will be redirected to the advertiser’s website where the products are available to buy. Don’t forget to add the location and hashtag stickers to raise the discoverability of your Instagram Stories.
Will my target audience realistically buy this now, or at a different time? Be sensitive to sales cycles and seasons. Maybe you should avoid holidays (when people are away from their computers, like July 4 in the U.S.) or maybe you should target holidays (like the day after Thanksgiving), but know the difference. Again, know your audience. Plan your content accordingly.
I did a lot of research to find the right one, and so I chose Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner (as I mentioned earlier). I figured it made sense to learn from the best, and with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, I had nothing to lose. I chat WAY more in-depth about it in my review here, but this course was definitely a gamechanger for me.
Amazon Associates – Signing up with Amazon Associates is a great platform for those new to affiliate marketing. Amazon Associates is Amazon’s affiliate marketing program and will give you access to millions of products that you can advertise to your audience. Quick and easy to sign up with, Amazon will give you up to 10% of every referral sale that is made.
Great article as it gets me thinking about the various ways to monetize my sites. With that said, my biggest hurdle has been how to get started building traffic. You see articles all over the net talking about massive traffic techniques, but I’ve never really found a guide for a fresh blog/website and how to get to their first 100, 500, or 1,000 daily uniques. Of course writing consistent quality content is key, but writing alone an audience does not make. Any tips or articles to point us to? Thanks again Sean!
On one hand, long and ugly affiliate tracking links are a straight giveaway to people that you want to sell them a product (and people may be uncomfortable clicking on them). Therefore, making your link shorter and "nicer" looking will it give a more professional appearance. One of my favorite plugins for making links look "pretty" is the Pretty Links WordPress plugin.
It’s no secret that Amazon is a pioneer in ebooks and expanding opportunities for indie authors. But Amazon also led the way in online affiliate marketing. In 1996, Amazon was a small online book retailer run from Jeff Bezos’ garage. With a limited marketing budget, Amazon decided to tap into readers’ love of books to help spread the word. Instead of having an initial outlay of money to buy advertising, Amazon paid people a commission when they referred buying customers to Amazon. This commission was paid after the customer bought, eliminating upfront marketing costs.
Once you get your basic website set up, your affiliates all arranged, and you start producing content that other people might want to see, it’s time to learn how to market yourself so that people will start visiting your site and finding out what you have to offer. If it’s good, word of mouth will bring others to see your website, and that (along with more marketing and SEO) will slowly but surely grow your audience. But to learn more about that, you should read some of the other articles on this site.
Perhaps most importantly, though, successful affiliate marketing on Amazon is built on the same foundational principle that all affiliate marketing, and all online marketing and business, is based: trust. In the end, Amazon is another tool that helps you help your audience and build their trust further, by promoting products that will help them achieve their goals.
You create an account with one (or both) of these services and provide information about your business as well as your payment information so you can receive payouts for commissions. Once you’re all set up, you can browse each service’s advertiser library and apply for various affiliate programs. You can see the dashboard displays the commission rates each advertiser offers. Payment is handled by the service themselves, so you won’t need to send and keep track of invoices.
Very useful info, and thanks for the heads-up about Etsy not allowing affiliate links on Pinterest! Have you ever tried advertising on Pinterest, i.e. paying Pinterest to promote your pins? I was wondering if that could be lucrative with affiliate marketing, where the margins are always lower than when you have your own product to sell. I’m also wondering if it would be lucrative to advertise on Google, Facebook and Youtube (found this guy who supposedly made a lot of money that way – https://moneytestimonials.com/crestani-free-webinar/ ). I’ll probably do my own experiments with this but if you have experience in this area I’d be very interested to hear about it!