I am so delighted to have my friend Tasha from Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body here today to talk a little bit about blogging strategy– and more specifically, monetizing your blog! Tasha is my go-to source any time I have questions about using affiliate sales as an income stream for my site, and I know you will find the information she has to share incredibly helpful as well. I’ll let her take it from here!

First, Amazon has something that tops all the others. You could call it brand equity, or trust, or name recognition. People know Amazon, and they trust it as a source to buy stuff. In 2017, more people started their product searches on Amazon than anywhere else—49 percent compared to 36 percent for search engines like Google and 15 percent for retailers themselves.
Once you’re financially stable, I hope you start giving back. It feels good and people like the idea of supporting a good cause (they will be more likely to click your affiliate link in your disclaimer). This also means you don’t have to use as many links in your content and risk getting a penalized. Last year I donated $3,000 to Red Cross At Hurricane Harvey.
Affiliate marketing pulls together marketers who want to advertise and publishers, sometimes called influencers, who want to promote products and services and get paid to do so. Publishers place customized links to things they want to promote within their website or social media content. Then, they get a portion of the sales as a thank you for their promotion.

High Cost/Low Effort — Get an agency to send you potential Influencers. Talent agencies like Viral Nation or MediaKix work with a stable of popular social Influencers who you can connect with for a fee. Unless you’ve got money to burn, and are looking to launch a huge Instagram Influencer campaign, this option is probably one to avoid for now. But hey, it’s there if you want to go big!

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.
I eventually learned the best model (for me) was to copy what Yoast did… charge a flat free for SEO Audits. People were always super happy with my audits. I still have my SEO audit templates (one for local SEO, national SEO, etc). Sometimes it would only take me 4 hours to write an audit and I would get $750, sometimes more if they wanted a more thorough audit. Maybe I undercharged?

Thanks for reading, Charmaine! I’m not sure about Hong Kong-specific affiliate programs, but what I would say is that most retailers do have an affiliate program in place, so if there’s a particular HK brand or company you use a lot, Google their name + affiliate program to see if they have one. Besides that, the ones I suggested are open to you regardless of where you’re from!
I expanded my SEO blog and started writing about hosting, cache plugins, and other relevant topics… while recommending SiteGround in each tutorial. I added social proof like this poll where they were rated the #1 host. Each tutorial was super detailed and tons of people found them helpful – many generated 100 visitors/day since the great content got them ranked high.
Some good tips. I fully agree that it’s all about trust and it is always good to recommend an affiliate product that you have actually used. Why risk your reputation on a product you don’t know if it’s any good or not? If people buy one dodgy product from your site, they will probably never make that mistake again. That it why my blog strongly advocates ethical affiliate marketing. It’s the best long term stragey for affiliate marketing success.
However, as I stated before, the single best source of highly targeted website traffic is from search engines. For that reason, you will wan to pay particular attention to these training videos covering SEO (search engine optimization). That’s where you’ll learn all about how to rank your website at the top of certain search phrases deliberately. You get to pick and choose what you rank for if you follow those steps.
High Cost/Low Effort — Get an agency to send you potential Influencers. Talent agencies like Viral Nation or MediaKix work with a stable of popular social Influencers who you can connect with for a fee. Unless you’ve got money to burn, and are looking to launch a huge Instagram Influencer campaign, this option is probably one to avoid for now. But hey, it’s there if you want to go big!
You can create a free account and get an overview of the dashboard and access some initial knowledge without any payment. However, live events, research features, and the level 2 - level 5 series of courses, walking you through the process of creating and growing a business within the niche that you want, are limited to premium members. Membership costs $19 a month, or is priced at an individual rate. But it’s absolutely worth it when you take it seriously and want to invest in yourself.

As an affiliate marketer, one of the most important things to work on is your credibility as a product reviewer. That is why we recommend first to try using the product or service before writing a review and recommending it to other people. Until you work up your skills, you may want to try promoting recognizable brand products. And work your way to reviewing and recommending products of less popular brands.


What you should do is consider products and services that would help your readers the most and pass over the trust you have in those companies. Consider the products and services you already use in your niche, and see if they have affiliate programs by searching for “[product/service name] affiliate program” or search for it on their websites by adding “/?s=affiliate program” to the end of their URLs.
Most businesses require startup fees as well as a cash flow to finance the products being sold. However, affiliate marketing can be done at a low cost, meaning you can get started quickly and without much hassle. There are no affiliate program fees to worry about and no need to create a product. Beginning this line of work is relatively straightforward.

Same here, this post kind of fell from the sky at such a great time. Been building a great community of readers over the years but reached a point where I’m losing money maintaining the site and newsletter. As you said, the ads don’t bring much -ironically I use Adblocks too but affiliate marketing always seemed like a weird and opaque subject. I’ve read many of Chris Guillebeau’s books in the last few months (this is how I discovered your site actually!) and I didn’t realize he had affiliate links for instance. Your post opened up a new window of possibility for me. Still need to process everything and do the work behind but a big thank you to you Sean!
If you choose gift card, it’ll be sent to your primary email address. If you opt for direct deposit, a space will appear on the page below to enter your bank details. And if you want a check sent to your contact address, keep in mind that the minimum payout is greater than it is for gift cards or direct deposit ($100 vs. $10), and a processing fee applies.
Building trust with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing, and the quickest way to lose trust is to recommend products either you haven’t used before or that aren’t a good fit for your audience. Also make sure you never tell anyone to directly buy a product, you are simply recommending the product. The more helpful you are and the more you make quality recommendations, the more likely your web visitors will come back for your expertise. 
Understand where people are at in the buying cycle and promote accordingly. Spend the most time sharing affiliate links where people are ready to buy. For example, you can share affiliate links on Pinterest, but most people are not on Pinterest to buy but to look. As such, focusing your affiliate marketing strategy on Pinterest might not be the best use of your time. Review posts, for example, might be better at tipping people over the line into buying.
Once you’ve chosen your interest and you’ve create a website where you can write about it, the next step is to pick out the affiliate programs that will advertise on your site. It’s tough to start affiliate marketing without a monetization plan! With over a million products and services to pick from, you’re bound to find something related to your interests, so feel free to go crazy with ideas like underwater basket weaving and scuba lessons if your interests lie with the ocean, or organic food and organic conditioners if you prefer to discuss how to stay beautiful with only organic plant extracts.

Can you make money with affiliate marketing? The short answer is yes, affiliate programs can earn a extra money and even a full-time income from home. The long answer is a little more complicated. Like any home income venture, success comes not so much from what you choose to do to make money, but whether or not you do what needs to be done correctly and consistently.
An influencer is an individual who holds the power to impact the purchasing decisions of a large segment of the population. This person is in a great position to benefit from affiliate marketing. They already boast an impressive following, so it’s easy for them to direct consumers to the seller’s products through social media posts, blogs, and other interactions with their followers. The influencers then receive a share of the profits they helped to create.
Spam is the biggest threat to organic search engines, whose goal is to provide quality search results for keywords or phrases entered by their users. Google's PageRank algorithm update ("BigDaddy") in February 2006—the final stage of Google's major update ("Jagger") that began in mid-summer 2005—specifically targeted spamdexing with great success. This update thus enabled Google to remove a large amount of mostly computer-generated duplicate content from its index.[33]
You can start figuring out your target audience by focusing on reading the reviews in your niche. You can also spend some time on forums and read the comment section on blogs that cover your niche topics. If you notice some unanswered questions emerging over and over again, write them down. Your audience needs them answered, and you can do it for them. Or you can do an online search for best niche blogs and see how they are structured.
According to Beeskow Blay, “Authenticity is the key to developing affiliate content that brings value to your audience and, in turn, influences them to purchase featured products.” She advises affiliate marketing beginners to “keep your message and brand consistent, find your voice and avoid overly pitchy posts or product insertions that are misaligned with your brand.” She warns that audiences are “quick to spot affiliate fakery. If they feel misled, they’ll find another source of information and not return to your site or social pages.”
Once you’ve chosen your interest and you’ve create a website where you can write about it, the next step is to pick out the affiliate programs that will advertise on your site. It’s tough to start affiliate marketing without a monetization plan! With over a million products and services to pick from, you’re bound to find something related to your interests, so feel free to go crazy with ideas like underwater basket weaving and scuba lessons if your interests lie with the ocean, or organic food and organic conditioners if you prefer to discuss how to stay beautiful with only organic plant extracts.

The description you send should include, for example, identification of the websites on which your banner ads are posted, advertising services you are using, screenshots of your Site’s analytics tools that show your Site traffic and its sources, the keywords you are using to drive referrals, any plugins or browser add-ons you use, live links to your Sites, a sequence of links that allows us to duplicate the clicks the majority of your customers make to get to the Amazon Site via your special links, and any other information that would be relevant to confirming the your compliance with the Operating Agreement, which can be found here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/agreement.


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.
Side note – If you do have a blog, just about any and everything that you use on your blog (hosting, themes, plugins, etc) has an affiliate program so apply to them!  You can also check out my List of Awesome Affiliate Programs which includes everything I use on my own blogs and more!  Even if you don't “blog” about those things, you can use them for Pinterest!
Affiliates may only post affiliate links on social media feeds they operate in line with their website URL, such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Affiliate links are prohibited on some social sharing sites, such as Pinterest and Tumblr. When posting content outside of Etsy, it is the Affiliate’s responsibility to follow each site’s policies on affiliate link
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