Blogging looks fun but in the long run, it is an expensive job (or should I say a gift?) unless you very well know how to monetize your blog. Registering an average .com domain name costs around $10 to $15 dollars per year and paying for web hosting can take it further high. Hosting a website for one year on SiteGround‘s lowest shared web hosting plan costs around $120 per year when no discounts are applied. So, on an average hosting a website for one year on a good web hosting plan can range anywhere from $100 to $1000. Imagine you are a small blogger just starting out or you have been blogging for long and haven’t monetized any part of your blog yet. This, my friend, is a very costly mistake. You cannot afford to keep losing money even though it may not have a big impact on your spending capacity.
A complete guide to affiliate marketing for bloggers
I feel that it is the right of every blogger to monetize their blog. Why share information for free when you can make money out of it? Share everything on your blog and at the same time try to monetize it to some extent. I don’t mean to suggest that you should do extensive monetization of your content, but try to do something at the least. For example, you can promote the products you actually use in your everyday life. I see many fashion bloggers who mention the products used in the images below their blog post but they do not link back to the products. This place where an affiliate link can be used is going waste. Most of the products you buy online are available on Amazon and once you have signed up for Amazon Associates (their own version of affiliate program), you can generate unique affiliate links with your tracking ID. Whenever someone clicks through your affiliate links and makes a purchase, you will be credited for it and the commission will be paid once you reach a certain threshold or withheld period. Now, that’s easy money.
A word of advice here – though it’s quite easy to make money from affiliate marketing programs, do some research on the internet before you apply to any affiliate networks and companies. Some companies don’t pay on time or the minimum payment threshold is set very high. So, don’t get scammed. Now as a fellow blogger, here are a few things you need to know about affiliate marketing basics.
Starting an affiliate marketing business
As a blogger, the easiest way to earn money online is by adding an affiliate marketing business to your blog. Though you can make money from affiliate marketing without a website, I highly recommend that you always have a blog where you can monitor the blog traffic, number of hits on affiliate links, analytics, and conversion. The best way to make money through affiliate marketing is by choosing the best affiliate programs which pay well and at the same time provides value and quality products or services to the customers.
How to do affiliate marketing: step by step
Getting started with affiliate marketing should not be a big deal for anyone and that’s why I have come up with this blog post. There are five basic steps which you need to follow to get started with affiliate marketing – choosing an affiliate program or network, shortlisting products and services that you would like to promote, testing the product or service before promoting, creating actionable content & directing traffic to your blog and finally, cloaking your affiliate links (totally optional but I’ll tell you why).
Choose a good affiliate network
ShareASale, Commission Junction, ClickBank, and Amazon Associates are the most popular affiliate networks. Depending on what the content of your blog is about, you can choose the right product for you to promote. Moreover, these affiliate networks offer a whole lot of other products for you to promote. Depending on your niche, you can choose the best affiliate network for you to join. You can also join all of them and pick the most suitable products to promote. Getting yourself accepted into most of these affiliate networks are quite easy with the exception of ShareASale, I got rejected a few times before I was finally accepted. And they don’t provide you with a proper reason on why they rejected your application. But hey, ShareASale is very popular and products of many big brands are available on their platform.
Promote the right products
To become a successful affiliate marketer, you need to research and choose the best niche to promote on your blog. The product should convert well and the commission must also be high. So, make sure you promote the right products on your blog. Here’s a bit of good advice from me – don’t get too excited and promote too many products on your blog. It won’t convert well, you won’t be able to concentrate on your goals and people will mark your blog as yet another spammy affiliate niche site. Try to concentrate on just two or three products or services at a time. In my blog, you can find me promoting just WordPress-related products and services like WordPress web hosting plans, WordPress themes & plugins and email marketing platforms.
Test the products before promoting
Before you can start promoting a product or service to others, you yourself need to know more about it. Just by copying the product description and promoting it won’t help you to get clicks on your affiliate links. You need to post about it in-depth with all the necessary details. But it doesn’t mean that you should always purchase and try the product before promoting it, no one can spend that much of money on it. Moreover, while doing it your returns on that investment will be diminished.
But by using the product and getting hands-on experience, you will gain more knowledge about it and ultimately you will know how to promote the product properly. Even if you are faced with tricky questions from online trolls, you will be able to manage and show them their place. Moreover, people always like to read about another person’s personal experiences with the product before getting it for themselves. Most of the affiliate programs allow you to try their products or services before you can start creating content and promoting them – book bloggers, beauty bloggers, web hosting guides, travel bloggers, food bloggers and Amazon/ClickBank affiliate marketers should agree with this.
Send traffic along the way
Now that you have tried out the product and have your content ready, it’s time to upload the content to your blog. Once you have published it, it’s time to start driving traffic to those posts with the help of social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, YouTube and more importantly, Pinterest. The main reason why I included YouTube in this list is that video marketing is the future of content marketing. Using videos as a part of your content marketing strategy is here to stay.
According to one research by HubSpot, 54% of consumers want to see videos from brands they support in comparison to email newsletters (46%) or social image (41%) based content. Moreover, video content was the most memorable (43%) in comparison to text (18%) and images (36%).
Using video marketing to drive traffic from your blog to affiliate sites is seriously better than using any other content marketing technique right now. But that does not mean you can ignore the other social media platforms – focus on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Paid advertising on Facebook and Twitter works really well and the investment needed is also small. Ever since Instagram was bought by Facebook, Pinterest has become the next hot kid on the block and internet marketers are flocking towards it.
Cloak affiliate links with pretty links
Affiliate links, in general, are long and ugly as they contain the necessary information required to track the affiliate marketer who referred the sale. Sometimes, the source of traffic that drove the sale is also tracked. Moreover, various parameters like campaign name, custom pages and actions can be added to these affiliate links which can make them very long and difficult for tracking by the affiliate marketers. So, it is always a very good idea to cloak these affiliate links with pretty links which can easily be tracked from your WordPress dashboard.
If you are using WordPress, you can use a free plugin like Pretty Link Lite or ThirstyAffiliates Affiliate Link Manager to manage your affiliate links. But these free plugins offer you only their basic or limited features. If you are a power user and want more powerful options, you can upgrade to Pretty Link Pro or ThirstyAffiliates Pro (recommended). With the Pro version, you can enable automatic keyword linking which allows you to add affiliate links to keywords automatically. Moreover, it offers advanced stats, geo-targeting. Google Analytics click integration, Amazon API importing, etc.
Thus, I hope that you found this post helpful in understanding the basic concept of affiliate marketing and how to get started with it by just using your blog or social media platforms without much investment. Since you are receiving a compensation (such as gifts, coupons, discounts, etc) or payment (affiliate commission or payment for the sponsored post) for your posts and social media promotion, it is your duty as a responsible affiliate marketer to disclose it to your readers.
If you have got any doubts, feel free to leave out a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.