Today on the show, I’m talking with Michelle from Making Sense of Cents. Michelle and her husband sold their house in July of 2015 and now travel full-time in their RV. Some of their more recent adventures include a 2-week sailing trip to explore the possibility of sailing full-time in the future. Michelle is a blogger who shares income reports on her blog. If you take a look at her latest Income report, you will see that she earned over $100,000 on her blog in the month of August alone, while working less than 10 hours per week. That’s how she can afford to travel full-time.
Don’t forget evergreen promotions — You want to keep content fresh but you don’t want to focus solely on trending and seasonal promotions — that’s simply too much upkeep. In contrast, “Evergreen” content isn’t connected to trends or seasons, so it has a long shelf life. As a beginner affiliate marketer, it’s a good idea to build a solid base for your blog using evergreen content. Then, keep your site fresh with new or regularly updated content that highlights trending topics and goods.
On Instagram, hashtags are your best friend. They’ll put your post in front of thousands more people. That will earn you more followers, and, hopefully, more sales. Make sure you add relevant hashtags to all posts promoting the product or service. Going back to our health food blogger example, she might add hashtags like #healthyliving and #cleaneating to her affiliate posts.
One of the most sought after and highly recommended course is this one on Guide to Effective Affiliate Marketing Strategies by Kudus Adu. Not only does he focus on create an affiliate marketing strategy, he focuses on best practices to create money pages, tells you how to build your email marketing list and how to profit from it. He clearly asks people looking for ‘get rich quick strategies’ to stay away from the course.
Create custom alerts on your phone for affiliate sales – if you use GMail, go to your settings and create a filter so all emails with “SiteGround Affiliate Sale Generated” in the subject line go into their own folder (tweak the subject line to match whatever email notification your affiliate sends you). Then setup a custom alert on your phone using the GMail app so anytime you generate a sale, you get a custom alert (here’s a tutorial for Android and here’s one for Apple). I have different notifications for SiteGround, StudioPress Themes, etc. Makes your day better :)

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.  

You can promote Amazon products as part of your other business offerings to create an additional income stream. Whether you sell a product or service, chances are their are products and services your customers and clients can benefit from sold on Amazon. For example, if you're a business coach that has found increased productivity with a Bullet Journal, you can promote dotted-page notebooks.


According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you must disclose that you’re an affiliate anytime you promote affiliate products. Why? It’s to protect consumers from being misled. If they know you’re getting paid, they can make a more informed decision about whether to buy a product. Let’s say someone recommends you buy a DJI Mavic Pro drone, raving about all the amazing features. You’re immediately interested. Then you learn that the recommender is a brand ambassador for DJI. Wouldn’t that make scrutinize what they said?  Maybe do more research? That’s the point of disclosures.
Great advice here. The typical idea of writing reviews of bicycle pedals and expecting someone to follow your link in order to buy a pair is dead. Now if you are actually a cyclists, and you know something about all the different types of pedals, and why different types solve different cycling problems, then hey, welcome to the world of providing useful content.
Now, truth be told, affiliate marketing does come with some costs. Fortunately, those costs are rather small when compared to starting other businesses. For example, if you want to succeed with affiliate marketing in the same way that I teach it, you’ll need a website. In order to have a website, you need to pay for “website hosting”. If you don’t know what website hosting is, don’t worry, we’ll get to that, but website hosting does cost a few bucks per month (generally under $10 / mo). If you have about $40 for startup costs and about $10 / mo for recurring expenses, this is entirely doable. There are many other optional expenses for affiliate marketing, which I will also get into, but those optional expenses are used more for speeding up the path to success (outsourcing, etc.) rather than a requirement for success. When I first started my affiliate marketing business, I had about $200 to my name.
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.

Banners – after testing them out I decided to take down my banner ads since they looked salesy and weren’t working like my affiliate links did. They’re easy to throw up, but distracting and probably won’t get great results. If you try them, be sure to show specific sidebar banners based on the type of content people are reading on your blog (for posts that fall under my SEO category I would show a banner related to SEO, and for posts under my website speed category I would show a different banner). You can do this using a plugin like Widget Logic.
This is fascinating to me….. never, ever, ever in a million years would I have thought I’d even *consider* starting a blog but in recent years I have also dreamt of staying home with my kids (I’m also a nurse!!) AND being financially set (and then some?!). The problem is that this whole concept is so foreign and terrifying to me. This post is awesome and seems to have an incredible amount of step by steps instructions. But, I do have a few questions. What was your (or a realistic) timeline from when you very first started your blog to when you could financially do that as your “real job”? And now that you’re established I understand you have passive income but what does your schedule look like? How much time do you have with your kids? I picture having to be at the computer for 6 hours a day?!?! I just wish I could actually see what someone like you does to create your posts and “work” 😉. Thank you, and I’m sorry this comment was so long!!
Firstly, pick a topic that you’re interested in that also has a lot of market potential. Think of something that you like, and consider whether there would be many products associated with it, or much of an audience. You can find a topic (or “niche,” as affiliates call it) with a little research. You’ll find lessons to help you with this process in the market research section of Affilorama’s free lessons. 

An advertiser in affiliate marketing can be any company that sells products (cosmetics, kitchen appliances, electronics, cloth, etc.) or services (software, cloud storage, video games, etc.). There is also one more distinguishing characteristic that defines you as an advertiser. You have to be ready to pay other people to help you sell your products and promote your website.
Outsourcing is so crucially important because that is how you will take your affiliate marketing business from just a small business that makes you a few extra bucks per month to a 5 or 6 figure monster that earns you a passive income. While one site is being outsourced and making you money, you can build a second one. While those two are outsourced and making you money, you can build a third one, and so on. So many new affiliate marketers take their first commission checks and just spend in on themselves. If they re-invested that into outsourcing instead, the returns would be much bigger. My business didn’t truly start taking off until I learned about the power of outsourcing.
I do find the rejections strange sometimes, and you are SO right that often there doesn’t appear to be a good reason. Just yesterday I got a rejection from a program I applied to months and months ago citing that “my site wasn’t a good fit”, but I had actually been accepted to them through CJ Affiliate when I first applied and have been generating pretty consistent sales haha. Oh well! Guess we’ll never know the “inner workings” of it all, but thanks for reading Robert 😀
Alternatively, to find niche affiliate programs, a basic Google search will suffice. Then simply sign up with the individual affiliate programs you like the look of and take it from there. There is no limit to how many affiliate programs you can sign up with, but make sure the products you are going to promote are high quality. If you promote products that aren’t up to scratch, you will lose the trust of your Insta-followers, and quickly lose your audience.
The first is to choose a good, memorable username so when people are tagging you in their photos on Instagram they don’t have to search hard to find you. It’s best not to have any strange characters in there too as it can make it more difficult for people to find you. If you have a twitter, the same username can help when people are looking for you. If you are a brand, make sure your Instagram handle is the same as your brand.
There are a few tips and strategies we recommend following when it comes to affiliate marketing. For starters, we highly recommend promoting what you know whenever possible. Promoting a new product you hardly have any experience in is fine once in a while, but promoting something you’ve used successfully for years is bound to help you gain the trust of your audience more efficiently.
Starting your own home business has never been easier, thanks to the internet. With the help of the internet you have access to people from all over the world, right from your own home. While there are many types of businesses you can start, affiliate marketing is one of the best. It can give you an extremely large income and all you have to do is learn some new skills. If you can read and write you can have a very successful online business.
With all of my blog posts, I have the consistently scheduled to share on social media and on Pinterest. This keeps the content in front of my audience. I use the social media scheduling tools Post Planner and Tailwind for this. Many affiliate programs also have great affiliate managers that will send out information with special promotions that you can share. If there isn’t a big sale or promotion going on, I will still try to feature certain high-converting posts on Pinterest, to my email list, etc.

Whether you are a brand or an influencer, creating a good Instagram profile isn’t as easy as it sounds. In principle it’s simple - take a good photo, upload it, add a filter and upload it. However, some of the most successful accounts have taken steps to make sure their Instagram stands out from the crowd so that they can gain more followers, and if they are an influencer, it paves the way for big brands to want to work with them to reach a wider audience.
It’s a little silly how often people overlook this step. The simple math is, if you have more eyeballs on your affiliate links, the more likely you’ll make sales. Sure, that’s a bit of an oversimplification buuuut it still holds true that you should be trying to gain traffic on these posts anyway. So, remember the importance of promotion! It’s not enough to just write killer affiliate posts.
URL masking: Often, you’ll find that affiliate links are a real, million character eyesore. It’s likely that your links will look like Merchant.com/dlfjlfjlfjdskljdfgimmeallyourmoneyalajdlkaf2131032klfjfdjldsjf. And let’s be honest, few people are going to want to click on that. URL masking is therefore when you create a prettier, cleaner “vanity URL” that makes your links more clickable. Some people use bit.ly, which has tracking purposes, or the WordPress Plugin Pretty Link.
This is the standard affiliate marketing structure. In this program, the merchant pays the affiliate a percentage of the sale price of the product after the consumer purchases the product as a result of the affiliate’s marketing strategies. In other words, the affiliate must actually get the investor to invest in the product before they are compensated.
This is a very common way to promote offers. For example, you will often see a blog post with links to certain products or services. If the reader clicks through and makes a purchase, the blog owner will make a commission. These in-text links blend in with other content on your site and are a great way of promoting an offer within your content, without being over-the-top salesy with banners. 
Banners – after testing them out I decided to take down my banner ads since they looked salesy and weren’t working like my affiliate links did. They’re easy to throw up, but distracting and probably won’t get great results. If you try them, be sure to show specific sidebar banners based on the type of content people are reading on your blog (for posts that fall under my SEO category I would show a banner related to SEO, and for posts under my website speed category I would show a different banner). You can do this using a plugin like Widget Logic.

Great! Thanks for sharing this. I am still a bit confused about images though.Is it okay to use a plugin like WP Zon Builder that uses the API to pull images? I usually download them from the product page because I like to use large images in my posts and not the iframe images from the site stripe. So this is not OK? Is there a simple plugin to pull images via API that you would recommend?

As search engines have become more prominent, some affiliate marketers have shifted from sending e-mail spam to creating automatically generated web pages that often contain product data feeds provided by merchants. The goal of such web pages is to manipulate the relevancy or prominence of resources indexed by a search engine, also known as spamdexing. Each page can be targeted to a different niche market through the use of specific keywords, with the result being a skewed form of search engine optimization.
Clearly, knowing which pages are the most popular on your site is important to your affiliate monetization strategy. This data helps you target your affiliate efforts to the pages that already attract the most readers. Once those pages are well-monetized, you can look into improving the search results, reader interaction and monetization of less popular pages.
But beyond these specific points, promoting affiliate products on Amazon really involves the same ground rules that apply to affiliate marketing in any form or on any other site or network. That is, know the products you’re promoting, be honest in how you represent those products, and give people enough information to make an informed decision about the product.
Whether you are a brand or an influencer, creating a good Instagram profile isn’t as easy as it sounds. In principle it’s simple - take a good photo, upload it, add a filter and upload it. However, some of the most successful accounts have taken steps to make sure their Instagram stands out from the crowd so that they can gain more followers, and if they are an influencer, it paves the way for big brands to want to work with them to reach a wider audience.
Hey, thanks for the great post. I’ve been following Pat Flynn and love his “give and it shall be given unto you” attitude..my perception anyway. At 50, with a high school education, I’m trying to learn affiliate marketing from information online. What I’ve gleened so far is to focus on giving the best, most honest information, like your Parents would give you. In exchange for your efforts rewards will come.
Español: iniciar un negocio de marketing de afiliados, Português: Iniciar um Negócio em Marketing de Afiliados, Italiano: Iniziare un Business di Affiliato Marketing, Русский: зарабатывать на партнерском маркетинге, Deutsch: Ein Affiliate Marketing Geschäft beginnen, Français: se lancer dans le markéting d'affiliation, Bahasa Indonesia: Memulai Bisnis Pemasaran Afiliasi, Nederlands: Een affiliate marketing bedrijf beginnen, العربية: إنشاء شركة تسويق بالعمولة
I have now done three courses on Affiliate Marketing and can recommend all three so if you want to check out each of these in more details here are the links to have a look at. I like them all for different reasons and its up to do which ones you choose they all cover the basics but I would say Makingsense of affiliate marketing probably is the most in-depth and comprehensive but it depends on how much you want to go into it each has different tips but essentially each course covers the basics.

Websites and services based on Web 2.0 concepts—blogging and interactive online communities, for example—have impacted the affiliate marketing world as well. These platforms allow improved communication between merchants and affiliates. Web 2.0 platforms have also opened affiliate marketing channels to personal bloggers, writers, and independent website owners. Contextual ads allow publishers with lower levels of web traffic to place affiliate ads on websites.[citation needed]
Ahh thanks for the kind words. Glad you found the post helpful. I would focus on building up a good base of content first before adding affiliate links, because like you said, some programs might not accept you if your blog is still so new. 2 posts is a nice start, but I’d definitely work your way up to 10-15 posts, enough to “fill up” the blog before you apply for affiliate programs. That’s just my opinion though! The other thing about starting too early is that you haven’t really established authority or a solid audience that trusts you yet, so the odds of readers making purchases through you is much lower as well. Focus on content first, then programs! The good thing is, you’ve taken Michelle’s course, which I thought was super helpful in terms of getting in the right mindset for affiliate marketing. Now that you know what sort of content works, you can get a good strategy set out from the beginning. 🙂 Best of luck!
A Digital Marketing Evangelist and Web Analytics Expert, Manish is adept in complete Digital Marketing Landscape. Creating and implementing Digital Marketing Strategies related to Analytics, SEO, PPC, SMM, Product Development, Mobile Advertising and other Marketing Strategies along with effective Consumer Analysis are his forte. He loves imparting all his experiences and expertize through his blogs.
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