One of the easiest ways to make money as a blogger is with affiliate marketing.
I have written about affiliate marketing how-to’s before, but in this post, I want to shed a bit more light on a few things you need to be aware of.
This post will be helpful to you if you’re a new-ish blogger and new-ish affiliate marketer struggling to navigate the world of affiliate marketing.
As suggested, this post assumes you’ve already started affiliate marketing. I’m also assuming that you’re getting at least 50-100 unique visitors to your blog every day and also have an email list of at least 50 subscribers. If you’re brand new and haven’t started affiliate marketing yet, then please refer to the post I linked above first.
A Brief Introduction to Affiliate Marketing as a Blogger
Affiliate Marketing, in short, is promoting and selling products created by someone else or some company (i.e., not your own product.) In exchange, you get a commission for each sale you make. If you’re brand new at this, you can read the details of this system in this post.
As a blogger, especially a new blogger, this is an excellent way for you to start making money because you can bypass creating your own product and focus entirely on marketing someone else’s product. This allows you to generate revenue and save time while you focus on building an email list, growing traffic, and publishing quality content consistently.
The idea is that once you get this system going, you’ll have an income coming in before you start thinking about making your own products such as courses, eBooks, digital products, etc. thereby easing down the financial aspect of blogging somewhat while you commit to creating a product of your own.
6 Affiliate Marketing Facts You Should be Aware of
If you’ve been into affiliate marketing for a while you should be familiar with some of the aspects I’m about to talk about, such as getting affiliate offers from companies in exchange of marketing their product, not getting enough sales even when you know the product you’re promoting is right for your readers, etc.
So, let’s tackle these issues one at a time, shall we?
1. Be cautious about promoting multiple products that do the same thing.
Once your blog starts to grow and if you’re already an affiliate for some products, you’ll notice that companies similar to the ones you’re promoting will reach out to you about being an affiliate for them.
This is tricky. On the one hand, this may seem tempting because more affiliate means more money, yeah? Well, not always so. Because on the other hand, you may end up confusing your readers and sending them to a competitor blogger who’s more clear about what they’re selling and why.
When you’re presented with the option to promote multiple products with similar features, what you need to ask yourself is this: why would you be promoting two or more products that do exactly the same thing?
I’m not saying that you can’t, but chances are that you’ll end up confusing your readers unless you’re clear about the pros and cons of each platform and communicate them with your readers clearly and concisely. Your goal is to make it easy for your readers to make a purchase decision, not confound them further.
How to promote similar affiliate products:
First of all, unless there is an apparent reason for you to promote two or more products that do the same thing, DON’T DO IT. But if there are clearly defined reasons, then be smart about it.
Here’s an example:
Now, this is pretty straight forward. You’ve presented the pros and cons of each platform, and have drawn a clear conclusion as to who should sign up for which and for what reasons. After reading this, your readers should have a clear idea of which platform they should pick, right?
Your goal is to be transparent. Make sure your readers know:
- Why you’re promoting two (or more products) that are similar and accomplish the same end-goal.
- Which features set them apart.
- Which product is suitable for who.
2. Do not use a Pin to direct traffic to an affiliate product page.
This will likely create some controversy, but I stick by my belief that you should never Pin an affiliate product page directly on Pinterest.
You know, those annoying Pins that take you directly to product pages while all along you were expecting some useful content, like a blog post, for example?
Here’s the thing. Many readers will find you on Pinterest. Your goal is to convert these readers into subscribers and repeat readers. But if you’re taking them straight to a different site and not yours, then they’re not converting, are they?
But the underhanded approach to this practice is that affiliate links attach cookies to the visitor’s site. So, even if someone lands on an affiliate product page and crosses out of it, the cookie is still there. Then if the user buys the product at a later date, the original Pinner [the affiliate marketer] is still getting a commission.
This may seem like a good idea to make a few extra bucks, but really, as a blogger, you should be paying attention to creating lifelong devoted readers. Underhanded methods don’t do that.
This just feels wrong to me. I don’t do it, and neither should you. There are better and more ethical ways to make money.
3. Share a lot, but not when it’s irrelevant.
A trick to exposing affiliate products to your readers is to share your affiliate links a lot.
Now, the word “lot” needs a bit of context.
For example, within one blog post, how many is too many? Because while you want to share “a lot,” you do not want to overshare to the point of exhaustion. Your readers need a breather. If you bombard them too much with affiliate promotions, you’ll just end up driving them away.
So, how much is too much within a blog post?
Well, that depends! If you have a 1000-word post, about 3 links should be enough — towards the beginning, around the middle, and towards the end of a post. But if you have a 3000-word post, you can share your affiliate link more. Use common sense to spread out the links. If your readers want to purchase, they’ll remember to click the links.
The next question then is,
about how many blog posts should you write about one affiliate product?
The answer is: as many as you need to.
The key to writing a good blog post is that you should never give too little information, nor should you give too much. People can only digest so much information at a time. Give them too much, and they won’t register. Give them too little, and you’ll leave them dissatisfied.
For example, I have a blog post where I walk my readers through how to use ConvertKit – my preferred email marketing software. ConvertKit has a lot of different features and functionalities, but in that post, I show my readers only what they need to know to get started with the platform.
And yet in another blog post, I show my readers specifically how to use landing pages on ConvertKit, because that is what the post is about — using landing pages to grow an email list.
I have plans for future blog posts on other, different features that are available on ConvertKit. Still, I’ll never consolidate all of that information into one single blog post — that’s just not what blog posts are about.
But that’s not all.
Don’t limit promotions to designated blog posts only.
What do I mean by that? Well, it’s not like I only share my affiliate links if I have a blog post about that product (like the two I mentioned just now about ConvertKit,) but I also share them within other blog posts where I feel that an affiliate plug will be useful.
For example, I have a tutorial on how to set up a WordPress blog on SiteGround, where SiteGround is my affiliate company. But then there are other posts where the topic isn’t SiteGround, but an affiliate plug is relevant. Like when I write posts on speeding up a WordPress blog, or where I share how to set up an online shop on a WordPress site with WooCommerce.
However, I pay attention not to plug an affiliate link where it is not relevant at all. For example, if you notice, in this post, I have mentioned quite a few of the products I’m an affiliate for, but I have not once linked them directly to an affiliate product page. Why? Because this post has nothing to do with these products themselves.
Instead, however, I have linked to relevant blog posts within this blog where you can read about the topics if you’re curious to learn more.
So, should you promote a lot? Yes, you should, but at the same time, you should be smart about it and not do it in a cringy way. Plugging an affiliate link everywhere, even when they’re not relevant, is the cringy way of selling. You want to sell for the right reasons, to the right people, in the right way.
4. Be picky about the products you promote.
I’ll give you an example. I’m an affiliate for both SiteGround and WP Engine (WordPress hosting companies.) Both are great companies, and I have no ethical dilemma about promoting them both. And that’s because I know exactly why I promote each of them.
SiteGround is great for beginner bloggers — it’s a great company with impressive features and a much more affordable option for budget bloggers. WP Engine, on the other hand, is even better and faster! And their quality is reflected in the price. It’s a much, much more expensive hosting company.
But here’s the thing. I have had offers from other hosting companies such as BlueHost and HostGator, and both of them offered a higher affiliate commission rate. I could have been tempted to become an ambassador for them, but I rejected their offers. Why then, even though their commission rate is higher?
For one simple reason. I know for a fact that their services are inferior to that of SiteGround, even though the price is comparable.
Don’t get tempted by money if you know a better product exists. Put your readers’ experience before the money, and your readers will reward you for your sincerity.
5. Know your audience and promote accordingly.
Let’s once again look at the example of promoting SiteGround and WP Engine – two of the best WordPress hosting companies out there.
I’m an affiliate for both products, and yet, if you look through my blog, you’ll notice that I promote mainly SiteGround, and not so much WP Engine. The convenient reason for doing that is that I host this very blog with SiteGround. But the other reason is my audience. I know that a majority of my readers are new-ish bloggers who’re not at a place to spend 35 bucks a month — which is WP Engine’s cheapest plan with some significant limitations.
WP Engine is also a more robust hosting company, and I know that a lot of newer bloggers will be perfectly fine using SiteGround. (I mean, I have been blogging for almost two years now, and I haven’t felt the need to switch away from SiteGround, I’m perfectly happy with my hosting choice!)
So, even if you think a product is excellent, if it isn’t great specifically for your readers, then you won’t be able to sell. Be careful when promoting such products, especially if there is a close alternative available that may be more appealing to who you serve.
6. Be careful about saying “yes” to affiliate partnership offers (pay attention to precisely what they’re asking of you.)
I mentioned earlier that as your blog starts to grow, many companies will reach out to you about being an affiliate for them.
They do this because they know how powerful the blogging channel is.
But be careful about when to say “yes” to these offers.
For example, often, these companies will fashion their emails in a way that makes it look like being an affiliate for them is a special thing, even when they’re not.
Pay attention to exactly what they’re expecting from you.
The emails go something like this:
“I believe your readers will benefit from our product, so will you please write something about the product, and in exchange, you’ll be an affiliate for life and will receive 20% commission for each sale that generates from your unique affiliate link.”
Now, it’s one thing to say, “Hey, be an affiliate, and you’ll get 20% commission per sale”. I understand that.
But notice how they’re not just asking that, but they’re also asking you to “write something.”
Now that’s extra work!
Be careful about accepting such offers. If a company wants you to write something especially about them, then you need to be paid. Period. Because being an affiliate itself involves a lot of work. These products don’t sell themselves. You’ll have to write blog posts (often multiple) to generate even one sale, especially if you’re a new blogger with not a whole lot of traffic yet.
So, when these companies make it sound like they’re doing you a favor by offering you an affiliate partnership, they’re not! So, anything that involves some kind of commitment from you needs to be paid for with more than an affiliate partnership offer.
But wait, you may be wondering, what’s so wrong with this if you have to write posts anyway no matter whether a company reaches out to you first, or you apply to be an affiliate first.
Well, if it’s a company you love and you know that your readers will benefit from, then sure, go ahead! But other times, you may be approached by a company that is not a necessity for your readers, but a luxury. Are you willing to do the extra work even if you know that you won’t be making that many sales?
So yeah, it comes down to what the offer is for and what is being asked of you, and your ability and availability to commit to what is expected. But all too often, I get these emails from companies who ask too much of me where the gain for me is minimal (the gain being if I sell an affiliate product, and often the commission isn’t high enough for me to consider it.)
The only reason I’d be willing to write a designated review or post for a company/product like that is if I’m paid for writing that post.
What about “mentions”?
That’s the other type of email you’ll get. They don’t ask for much, not a whole blog post or anything like that, just a “mention” somewhere in your blog.
If that’s the case and you know that they won’t require too much work on your end, then sure, feel free to mention their products. However, do weigh in on some of the other factors that I have mentioned above, for example, will the product benefit your readers, can your readers afford the product, are you already promoting something similar, etc.
What about an irrelevant but paid offer?
I once had someone reach out to me who wanted to pay me to publish their content. In addition to becoming an affiliate for their company, they’d also pay me for a blog post and even write the post on my behalf!
Sounds great, right?
The only problem was that they were selling “beauty products.”
So yeah, be careful about those. Posting something so completely irrelevant will just make you look like a fraud. Readers don’t want to follow a fraud.
What about a legit paid offer?
Sure! Those are the best kinds! Feel free to say yes to those if the compensation is good enough for you.
I have had some paid and totally relevant offers before. The only reason I rejected some of those was that the pay they offered was below my expectation.
Now, we all set our expectations differently. For some people, writing a 1000-word blog post for 25 bucks may seem fair. But for others, writing 1000 words for anything less than $500 is a no-no. So, where you draw the line is up to you. But if you feel that a product aligns with your standards and vision, and if you think writing a post on that product will benefit your readers, and the company is willing to pay adequately for your time and effort, then go ahead and say “yes” to that offer.
Well, there’s your affiliate marketing facts. Again, if you’re a total beginner with affiliate marketing, you should start with this post. And if you haven’t even started a blog yet, you should sign up for my free blogging bootcamp where I’ll help you get started with your very first blog!
Questions? Feel free to leave it in the comments!
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