Check out our more detailed post for a bit more about the specifics of what affiliate marketing is.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
There are a lot of different ways to track affiliates these days, but all are based on someone clicking your special tracking link.
The most common and basic type of tracking is via a cookie.
When an affiliate link is clicked, a small file called a cookie is stored on the users computer. Then they buy a product, the merchant can see that they were referred by you.
There are also more advanced methods based on the email used or IP address – but we won’t get into those here, we’ll stick to the
How to Start Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog in 8 Steps:
Step 1: Your Need a Website
Step 2: Choose an Industry, and then Niche Down
Step 3: Research Products in Your Niche that You Can Review
Step 4: Sign Up for the Click Bank Market Place
Step 5: Find affiliate programs for the other products you want to review
Step 6: Create content in the form of tutorials, review posts, resource pages or emails and use your affiliate link
Step 7: Optimize the page and track your rankings in Google
Step 8: Rinse and Repeat!
We’ll cover all of these steps (and more) in detail in this post, but it’s important to understand the general process from the beginning.
How Much Money Can You Make With Affiliate Marketing?
The amount you can make will vary wildly – it honestly falls somewhere between zero and millions.
Your income will be directly related to the type of offers you promote, how much traffic you get to the site, and your grasp of other online marketing skills like email marketing and SEO.
But in this post, you’ll get a pretty good sense of the earning potential from different types of promotions.
How Do You Become an Affiliate Marketer?
Here’s the thing, you can pick just about any product that you can buy online, and there will be an affiliate program that will pay you a finders fee for referring a sale.
However, just because you
can promote anything, doesn’t mean you should.
The most important thing to consider when selecting a product to market is, “is it relevant to your audience?”
For instance, for me to try and advertise for dumbbells on Location Rebel probably isn’t the smartest thing, because 99% of my audience could care less about them.
However, for me to promote, say,
WP Engine a hosting company – makes much more sense, since almost every one of my readers either has or has considered starting a website.
And just recently, we promoted
Streak as an awesome tool for freelancers to use to monitor leads right from their inbox. Once again, that’s something that speaks directly to the audience.
Affiliate Marketing for Information Products
The next type of product you can promote is an information product.
This is usually something created by a blogger, marketer or author that teaches you how to do something.
Chris’ Empire Building Kit is a great example of an information product. As is
Location Rebel Academy.
There are a lot of reasons that information products are so great to promote:
Often they are higher priced, which means higher commissions
They can have a personality behind them, which builds trust and makes them easier to sell
There are often full marketing funnels behind them aiding in sales
They solve a problem or provide a solution that your readers are looking for
Generally, it can be a little bit more work to become an affiliate for these products because often the creator is a bit more protective of who they let market the products.
There’s also no central place you can go to join like you could with Amazon. Usually, you’ll need to talk to the author directly or look for an “affiliates” page on their product site.
How to Select What Information Products to Promote
I’m pretty selective about the products I personally promote, but each year I make tens of thousands of dollars marketing information products.
The commissions are
much higher than physical products which is why I like promoting them so much.
Information product commissions usually range from 30-50% – because the costs of production are so much smaller.
When I promote information products I usually look for high priced products created by people who are good at marketing. Why?
Because I send traffic to their funnel, and they convert the sale. My work is relatively minimal.
To give you an idea of the scope of this and what’s possible, over the last 2 years I’ve made over $20k in affiliate commissions from one product alone. This includes an occasional mention in a blog post, 2 webinars, and a handful of dedicated emails. That’s it.
To make things even better, I’ve seen the results people have had from the program, and they’ve been remarkable.
So if you have a course or product that you’ve personally used and seen a lot of success from, check and see if there’s an affiliate program – because if you’re going to recommend it anyway, you might as well get paid for it!
Affiliate Marketing for Service Products
The third type of product you can promote is a service. This is another big one for me, because of the nature of what I write about here.
My business doesn’t function without hosting, a theme, email software etc.
So it can be easy to make a sale on services because if I personally love and use them, there’s a good chance you will too.
One of the cool things about services, for instance, is that often there are recurring commissions. For instance, I make roughly 20% a month every time I refer someone to
Sumo or Visual Website Optimizer – which are both services that I use religiously.
Over time that can add up to be a nice extra bit of income each month.
Think about which services you use and if it makes sense to promote them on your site.
You can usually expect commissions between 15-30% on service products – sometimes higher or lower depending on what it is.
Why Choose Affiliate Marketing Over Other Types of Blog Monetization
Most new bloggers assume that advertising or banner ads are the best way to monetize your site.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
They often get started with Adsense because it’s easy. To be honest I can’t remember the last time I saw an Adsense advertisement – thank you
But seriously, not only will these make your site hideous, you have to have obscene amounts of traffic to actually make any real income.
Selling ad space to sponsors is almost as bad.
A good rule of thumb I’ve always used for how much you could sell ad space for is this:
Daily visitors divided by 10 is the dollar amount you can make per month on an ad.
If you get 1,000 visitors a day, you divide that by 10 and see that you can charge $100 a month for each ad on your site.
Now keep in mind this is just a rule of thumb, and depending on your niche it could be substantially higher or substantially lower.
When you’re just starting out, $100 a month could seem pretty good, but it takes a
lot of work to get up t0 1k visitors a day – and if you get that many, you’re much better off monetizing via affiliate ads or ads for your own product.
For instance, if had ad space on Location Rebel, I’d be
much more likely to promote an affiliate product, or one of my own products than sell the ad space.
If someone clicks on it and buys my product I make $500 – 5 times more than I’d make for that sponsored ad. All I need is one every 5 months to make this a better option. Not only that, but it’s helping build my brand identity and reputation, rather than some random company.
Enjoying This? Get our Niche Site Starter Guide for More Step by Step Help with Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog
Best Affiliate Products for Beginners
As you’re getting going, there are three specific types of products I recommend starting to market. These are ones that will give you the best chance of success in growing your business and actually making commissions early on.
How to Promote an Affiliate Offer
Ok, now the most important part.
By now you should have a good sense of what affiliate marketing is, have an idea of what products you want to promote and know how to get your affiliate links for them.
But if you don’t know how to properly promote them, it doesn’t really matter now, does it? Nope.
In this section, we’re going to look at some of the easiest and most successful ways to promote an affiliate offer.
Affiliate Marketing With a Resource Page
This is probably the easiest thing you can do right now to bring in a few sales over the coming weeks: create a resource page.
Regardless of what your business is, there are tools, products, and services that you use to run your blog or business. By putting together a page of all of your tools and resources, you’re creating something that’s shareable, as well as useful.
My resources page is called
“60+ Essential Tools for the Location Independent Entrepreneur”.
Taking the same concept and going a step beyond is my book Location Rebel Arsenal.
Want to grab the LR Arsenal and check it out for yourself? Click here.
I took the same idea, created a well-designed email, and then gave it to people after they joined the interest list for Location Rebel Academy.
This does dual duty in making affiliate sales, as well as growing my email list.
Affiliate Marketing with Product Reviews
If you’ve built up a lot of trust with your audience, product reviews are a fantastic way to generate some sales. This works for all three types of products you can promote, and I’ve personally seen success with each.
They key to a successful product review is
I’d generally only review things you like, but if there are drawbacks or little things that bother you – be upfront about them. Most people know that no product is perfect, so if you set expectations and are open with them, there’s a good chance they’ll buy it anyway.
Make sure you include the following items in any product review:
Clear headline featuring your desired keyword (“product name review” for instance)
Clear links for where to buy at both the top and bottom of the page
A clear recommendation
A personal story about how you use the product or why you recommend it
I’ve done this with a lot of success on my golf site.
Here’s a review I did for a rain suit that makes 4-6 sales per month. I said why I like it, I discussed the downfalls, and then made it clear why I’m ok with them.
review I did for Sumo, one of my favorite marketing tools. And another I did on Bluffworks, an awesome travel pant that I love for trips.
Affiliate Marketing with Comparison Posts
These can be another really effective strategy for making affiliate sales.
It works well when there are either two products that are very similar and people are thinking about one or the other.
A great example would be comparing the PlayStation 4 vs the Xbox One.
If people are looking for a new game console, it’s probably going to be one of the two. That said, I don’t recommend you choose these because due to the overwhelming amount of information about both – it’d be hard to rank well in the search engines for any terms related to them.
A personal example is a post I just did about two competing golf technologies
Game Golf and Arccos Golf. They both do variations of the same thing, but no one had played as many rounds with both systems as I had. So I created a definitive post which has sent a lot of traffic, and a few sales, my way over the last couple weeks.
Another type of comparison post that works well is when there are a
ton of options, and people don’t know what to choose. Web hosting is a great niche for this.
Recently, I created an in-depth post that
compared and contrasted all of the different options for hosting – and helped the user to select the best option for them. It didn’t really matter which one they chose because I’d get a commission no matter what.
Using an Email Series to Start Affiliate Marketing
This is probably the most effective (and most advanced) method we’ll talk about for making affiliate sales: your email list.
If you’re getting to the point where you have a sizable list, you could create a series of emails to promote a product. This works best if it’s an information product with relatively high commissions.
For this to work well you should have the following:
A list of at least 1,000 people
A product you’ve either used and had success with, or have a very good story/reason for promoting
A product that converts well (talk to the creator about this)
I’ve found a 3 email series usually works well for this, but don’t start going this direction until you’ve had some experience with either email marketing or the other affiliate strategies we’ve talked about.
5 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes You Never Want to Make
Over the years, I’ve made a
lot of affiliate marketing mistakes, so check out that post and make sure you don’t fall into some of the same traps I did as you’re getting started with your affiliate promotions!
Or if video is more your thing? Watch this:
A Few Last Affiliate Marketing Tips
If you follow along with the strategies above, you’ll be making affiliate sales in no time off of your blog.
To improve your chances even more, I’ve got a couple more tips for you.
Use Pretty Link
Affiliate links are generally pretty ugly. They’re long links, that often go to a secondary domain, and are pretty clear that they’re an affiliate. Download the plugin
Pretty Link to make your links look much more friendly.
Develop a Good Relationship with an Affiliate Manager
Most major affiliate programs for physical products or services will have an affiliate manager, whose sole job is to help you generate more sales.
You’ll need to prove to them that you have some potential, but do your best to get them on the phone before you start doing any major promotions. They’ll be able to give you a good sense of what works, what doesn’t, and potentially even give you a boost in commissions.
One phone call nearly doubled my commissions for one hosting company in particular.
Affiliate Marketing Alternatives: 4 Other Online Businesses to Suppliment Your Affiliate Marketing Business
Freelance Writing – The easiest way to start a business online, start building some skills, and building confidence in your ability to successfully do something like affiliate marketing.
Niche Sites – Once you get the basics of affiliate marketing down, you can really hone in on repeating the process and creating niche sites on all sorts of different topics.
Blogging – A huge component of every good affiliate marketing site is the blog, take that skill set and translate it into another business. Physical Products – Want to make a physical product that ties into your niche and then sell it online? If you want to work at it, there’s a ton of opportunity here.
Now Go Get Started (You Won’t Regret It!)
I know that was a lot of information, but if you’ve been struggling with figuring out how to start monetizing your blog, the strategies above are a fantastic starting point.
It’s how I made my first dollars online, and it has the potential to create a win/win for both you and your readers!
Want to take your online business and affiliate marketing more seriously?
That’s why this site exists, to help you build an online business that lets you do more of the stuff you enjoy in life.
What questions do you have about affiliate marketing?? Share them with us in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer every single one.