Affiliate marketing is one such amazing passive income streams available for everyone. This article is perfect for bloggers who like to start affiliate marketing.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a simple concept.
You apply to be an affiliate with a business who has a product or service that you can sell behalf them. They provide you with a tracking mechanism either as a link or a code, which you use on your promotion method.
You refer that product to anyone. When someone buys through that link or uses the code. The store knows that you referred the customer and they will pay you a commission for the referral.
We refer products all the time, why not get paid for it?
Whenever we have a good/bad experience with a product we always tell someone about it.
Especially when the product is good we strongly recommend that to a friend and pursue them to buy it. Most of the time they end up buying it too.
Imagine every time you referred something and you got paid a commission from that sale. It would start accumulating and quickly it adds up to a lot.
Making it an amazing passive income opportunity for bloggers.
What do you need to get started with Affiliate Marketing for bloggers?
I can’t stress this enough.
“You need a good self-hosted blog”
In order to promote anything online successfully, you need a platform, brand, and a web address.
Don’t let anyone fool you that you can make something without a web address. You might make some sale here and there but it is never sustainable.
Affiliate marketing is no different. You need to treat it like a real business. Create a brand, tell people the story and recommend products that you genuinely like.
As your blog grows and more you promote affiliate offers. Quickly you will see the income flowing in and more than that you have a brand that you build and showcase to others.
You need the right attitude
Building an income stream is a long-term game, not shortcuts or make a quick buck here and there.
They might work for some but we don’t recommend spending time on anything that will not work while you sleep.
Think long-term, build something that will continue to grow and work for you forever.
Try until you succeed. The only reason someone ever fails is when that person gives up. Remember, there is always a way to succeed we just have to find it. For some, it might take years but it will happen.
Always persist to succeed.
What are the affiliate networks that you can join?
A good affiliate network should have a few important aspects.
- Payout method – Learn and understand how the affiliate network would pay your commissions. More importantly, make sure you will be able to accept the supported payment methods.
- The frequency of payment & Minimum payment – Every affiliate program has a minimum payment limit that you need to reach before they pay you. Make sure you are ok with the frequency of payment. Depending on the product you promote you should aim to receive the payment on a consistent basis. If not either the program terms or the product is not a great fit for you.
- Reputation – There are many affiliate networks that are not reputable, either they would shut down the offers without notice or there might be problems with the way they track and pay you. Be careful in selecting the affiliate network that is reputable and trustworthy. See the list below for the recommended one.
- Offers past data to be successful – In order to pick the right product and promote them, you need to know how they worked for others in the past. If a product is not tested and does not have a performance benchmark, you might not know if the product would really work or not and you would be wasting your time and resources.
- Support – More important is you need support in case you have any issue or questions about the product and offers. Think about it, on a Saturday afternoon a pin went viral and received a huge spike in traffic but the affiliate site is down and no one responded to you. All your efforts are now wasted. Be sure there is a support system in place before signing up.
Recommended Affiliate networks for blogs
There are 2 types of affiliate program types available that you can join.
- Product sites: If you are using a product or service online, there is a good chance that they might have an affiliate program. For example, if you like Bose speakers there is an affiliate program for that one too. You can directly search on google to see if there is an affiliate program and you can apply for it. Usually, these programs could be part of an affiliate network. (which we will talk about next)
- Affiliate networks: These networks carry affiliate programs from many vendors like Bose (VIGILINK is the network for Bose). They provide a marketplace to manage publishers and advertisers. These networks take care of tracking the commission, paying out and make sure the everyone is in compliance with the legal terms and paperwork.
There are tons of networks available to us. I have listed the top ones that I recommend to get started.
p.s. I recommend to join in only 1 and try to scale within that network. You can join the others if only you find real value in it. The max you can go is 3 networks to get some control around your affiliate marketing promotions. If you keep hopping from one to another you would get distracted and none of your efforts would be fruitful.
Once you get the hang of it then you will be in all the networks to maximize the revenue.
One of the oldest and popular network. They offer a wide range of affiliate products that are well suited for beginners.
Clickbank could be your only affiliate network if you find a product that works for you. It is not difficult to start making $1000 or more in the first month.
They even have a university course to teach you to be successful in being an affiliate. I would highly recommend this program if you are starting out as an affiliate.
Check out the video from the creator of the university.
The next popular one is ShareASale, it is similar to Clickbank with a ton of product offerings.
They also give you all the data required to join an affiliate program and also give you ideas on how to promote to maximize commissions
It is another network that you can join and find many brands to promote. It is a great network but I don’t deal with it much because of lack of time.
If you did not find great products in the other network you might find some product offerings on this one.
Amazon also offers an affiliate program that you can join. It is a great program to join.
Supplement you Blog – The commission from Amazon is not great compared to other affiliate offers but it can supplement your content to offer additional revenue stream.
For example, if you are writing about a topic you can suggest a book related to the subject or a physical product within the post. When someone buys using that link you get paid a commission for the referral.
With Amazon, you can promote everything they offer, including prime, books, audible and other services.
They also offer good tools to enhance your affiliate marketing. Whenever you share a product with a friend you can quickly get the affiliate link and share it. It is easy to use and a must-have the network for your blog.
How to join as an affiliate?
Joining an affiliate is easy. Usually, the affiliate site has easy online signup for most of the popular programs.
However, here are a few things to have it handy.
Tax documents – Often the affiliate network asks for the tax documents to report the tax department. If you are in the USA, you need tax identification numbers such as SSN or EIN. Make sure you talk to your CPA or TAX accountant before sharing your details.
Business Address – Most of the affiliate programs needs your business address to know your location and report tax based on that. They also generate a tax document for you, so you can report them while filing your tax as well.
Website – It is rare to get approved by the affiliate network without a website or blog. Some of the networks even look at the website information such as traffic data, your niche and your promotion methods to see if you fit their terms.
Promotion methods – I have seen most of the affiliate network has some restrictions on a few promotion methods. They will explicitly ask about your promotion methods and will let you know the permitted methods to promote their products. Blog or content marketing is always accepted by almost everyone.
Keep this information handy and you should get approved easily.
Also, make sure you talk to your affiliate manager and clear things if there are questions or concerns. It is also a good idea to build a long-term professional relationship with your affiliate manager because they will offer more resources and suggestions for you to be successful.
What products should I pick?
Picking the right product is critical to affiliate success. Many make the mistake of just signing up for a product that is profitable or looks good to promote.
But remember you are recommending a product to your friend or someone you care about. If you don’t know about the product in detail and if your friend doesn’t like it. You lose your reputation and trust with them.
p.s.Recommend only the products that you know for sure it works.
Choose a theme/Niche
Before you start picking up the product pick up a niche that you are committed for the long term. This is why I recommend starting a blog.
The blog defines your brand and the topic you write about. Based on the knowledge on the subject you recommend the product that you used for your blog and have experience.
This also builds trust with your audience and you can be the testimony for the product.
Create a story for people to understand the value
When you recommend a product you need to explain the value of the product. You can do this by telling your story of how it worked for you and the problems it solved for you.
When people learn your experience automatically they will buy the product to mimic the result you got.
Look carefully at the numbers
Many affiliate networks provide you with the past performance data of that product. They also give you the conversion metrics like earnings per click and conversion percentage on the landing page. This past performance data gives a good benchmark to target for.
Most of them also give you information about the right target audience and creative media like images and videos to promote the product.
You need to carefully analyze this number before putting in the effort. Our goal is to find out the EPC Earning per click, which means how much you can make per click.
Also, we need to find the benchmark for each click for that keyword or niche and if it works then you can start setting up the offer.
For example, let’s say the EPC is $0.50 and if it takes $1 to drive traffic to your affiliate link then you won’t make money. Make sure you do the math and have enough room for spending on ads or other promotional methods.
How do I promote the affiliate?
You have 2 options for this. I recommend using both options in parallel.
Many frown upon the idea of spending money on ads, but remember the fastest way to make significant money is to leverage tools and resources. Ads are a great way to define your audience and reach them quickly.
It also gives you a massive advantage to test your offers quickly. If no one responded to an ad after spending $5-10 then you are not going to waste time on that offer. Move on to the next one and recoupe the money you spend on the previous ad.
Facebook ads: Facebook is the largest social network with all kinds of people in it. The Facebook ads are the most popular method that works for most cases, however, they do restrict certain types of ads and content.
Facebook ads also have a little bit of a learning curve. For beginners, it could overwhelm but once you learn the technique, this is one of the best traffic sources available today.
Start with $1 on ads and learn how it works, then scale as you see results.
Here is a current promotion we are running to even promote a blog post. It would have taken months to get this level of engagement if we did it organically.
Google Ads: Google ads platform is the most popular ads network out there. The only challenge is it is highly competitive, the click to your website cost could be expensive and might not get the returns you expect.
However, there are few untapped niches and international markets still lucrative test and see if it works for you. You can look at the Google display network this could work if you know exactly which blogs or website you can target.
Reddit ads: Reddit is a different type of platform, where the communities either love your content or totally hate it. However, the ads on the platform are super cheap and if the content you post helps Redditor’s then you make a ton of sales with it.
Quora ads: Quora is new in this space, the users are mostly professionals. The content-type should resonate with them and you could get a ton of sales from it. Once again not all the niche or topics would work here.
Other advertising networks: There are tons of other ad networks to experiment. However, it is totally going to depend on the content you are working with.
Everyone likes free traffic but most of the free traffic does not have the quality we expect to convert our offer into sales.
Still, if you put some time to learn and engage with your audience the efforts can be really fruitful. Remember you need to have a blog or website for this strategy to work best.
Here are some of the techniques for getting quality traffic to your website.
Blog Comments: Blog is the place where people learn almost any information from the internet. Most of the people after reading the blog they look down at the comments to see what others are saying about the content. You need to present yourself as an expert in the comments and add some valuable information while dropping your link in it. These comments stay forever and generate traffic for a long time.
Be sure to comment on the fresh post to have an effective promotion. You can do this by going to google and searching for posts within 24 hours.
Forums: Online Forums is another place where people discuss a topic and get answers. Try to participate in those forums and offer information while adding your link there. Quora is a popular place to answer the questions on relevant topics and add links back to your page.
Content Curation site: There are sites like Scoop it and Alltop that aggregates content from the blog and present it to their visitors. They are a great way to share your blog/RSS link and they will automatically pull the content and share it with their audience.
Youtube: Videos are powerful and it is one of the top sources of information consumption for people. If you can create videos then this is one of the best ways to promote your offer.
Facebook Groups: One of the best ways to generate traffic is through Facebook groups. You will find tons of groups for every single topic. Join a few of them because not every group can drive traffic. Become an active participant and share your blog posts regularly.
Pinterest: I saved the best for last, Pinterest is one of the top organic traffic sources for our eCommerce site and 2nd biggest for our blogs. The best part is we spend a lot less time on it compared to other social media promotions.
Build Sales funnel (Advanced but effective)
Once you get the traffic, the next step is to convert it effectively. Most of the traffic that lands on your site are cold traffic and they don’t know anything about you, so it will be hard for them to trust you and buy from you. You need to warm them up and then convert into sales.
This is the reason you should use a sales funnel.
A sales funnel is a process in which you will lead your visitors through a sequence of steps and teach them about the product and offer them a product for sale at the end.
A typical funnel looks like this.
First, it starts with a visitor giving you the email address in return for a free offer or product it is called lead capture.
You then warm the lead by providing information about your product or services. Depending on the complexity and cost of the product you send as many emails you think would add value and convince the user to buy from you.
When they are fully warmed up you offer the product at the right time.
If they buy the product from you, then you offer more products that complement the core product to increase the order value.
Bottom line, a good Sales funnel converts better than just sending the traffic directly to a sales page. It does worth the time and resource investment to set up one for your affiliate product promotion as well.
What tools to use to create funnels?
Depending on your technical skills.
Not so tech savvy – You can use tools like Clickfunnel to create funnels. If you are not inclined to building pages, installing code then it is a great product which offers a drag and drop feature to build a high converting funnel.
Tech guys – You have all the options to create your own web pages or WordPressress page builders to create the sequence. It is hard and time-consuming but if you like the fun of playing with technology then go for it.
It is an automated email marketing process.
You create a sequence of emails and schedule it to send it out to people on a specific time or based on events.
Most of the email marketing software offers this feature to schedule emails. But only a few good ones offer the flexibility and feature set you for you to be successful at it.
How much money can I make passively in this model?
The word passive means different things to different people. Many think that there is a secret strategy that will automatically make money without us doing anything.
But the passive income we refer to is leveraging other people time and resources. For example, you start an eCommerce store you still need to add products, manage ads, fulfill orders and deal with customer services.
The passive income method we recommend in this model is you hire virtual assistants to do all the work for you.
You only have to initially test the strategies and create the instructions to give it to the VA. Once a week you check the reports to see if the business is going on track or if you need to replace the VA with someone better.
Now think about the possibility of how much can you make passively. It is left to how many ideas you can think about, test it and transition to your VA.
Keep in mind you need to invest in virtual assistant (VA) model for this to work and I would recommend starting small. For starters hire VA on the hourly basis first to see how it works initially before totally deligating all the work.
And you should do it only after making $1000 a month consistently.
To make $1000 you can just promote a good affiliate product and from there it is just history.
Affiliate marketing for bloggers is all about leveraging other resources.
- Other people products
- Other people’s time
- Your blog platform, so you get to build assets, grow your audience base and make money from it.
Remember, a million starts with making a dollar first. Start today and share your success story with us.