How to Make Money Blogging with Affiliate Marketing

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When I first got started online, I was blown away to see that people were making money on their blogs through affiliate marketing. Even stranger, these people weren’t “special” – they had no special degrees or training, didn’t need years of experience, and didn’t even need to make their own product.

I was fascinated. How was it that some people were able to make a full-time living just by recommending their favorite things?

So I researched it – from other bloggers’ income reports to a hefty pile of books, it became clear that blogging with affiliate marketing is not only a promising side gig, but something that, with work, can become an extremely rewarding and profitable full-time hustle.

But it is a lot of work and the learning curve can be steep. It’s easy to get information overload and feel completely overwhelmed. But it doesn’t have to be. As with many things in the blogging world, once you have a guidebook and a detailed plan, everything becomes doable.

I know exactly how insane it can feel to dive into the world of affiliate marketing, and I don’t want you to have to experience the same hair-pulling confusion that I did. Here are my top 5 tips to help you succeed in the world of affiliate marketing.

1. Be genuine.

As simple as this sounds, this is where many bloggers fail. While affiliate marketing can be a highly profitable part of your blog’s income, you will only find success on products that you genuinely like, use, and recommend. Promoting a product or service you have no experience with just to make a huge cut will only put a dent in your integrity and trustworthiness, making people less likely to want to look into your recommended product. Always talk to and treat your audience like a dear friend – only show them what will really help them out!

2. Only work with 3-5 affiliates at a time.

If you want to make money from affiliate marketing, then the more the merrier, right?

Not necessarily.

It’s much better to focus on a few things with great success than to focus on several things in a half-measured way. Plus, if you recommend too many products for one solution, you run the risk of overwhelming your audience and causing them to choose none of what you recommend to them.

Ideally, you’ll be able to find a low-cost, medium-cost, and high-cost solution to your readers’ problems, so that you can appeal to all budgets. Of course, always only recommend the products that you wholeheartedly believe in and that you think will resolve your readers’ issues.

3. Make a resources page.

A resource page is a one-stop source for your readers to find your top recommended products and services. This saves your readers time from digging through all of your posts, and gives greater visibility to your affiliate links and therefore increases the likelihood that they get clicked on. Your readers get less of a headache and you get more passive cash in your pocket. Everybody wins. 😉

4. Choose a self-hosted blog.

This might seem like just a minor difference, but it’s one that packs a lot of punch. How do self-hosted blogs differ from those that are not?

Self-hosted blogs have their own domain and might be powered by a content management system such as WordPress.org (not the same as WordPress.com!). So, rather than seeing the URL mywebsite.wordpress.com or mywebsite.blogger.com, you would simply go to mywebsite.com.  This is subtle but important for several reasons.

  • Readers and potential buyers trust an independent website more.
  • You have more control over your own brand. Oftentimes, freebie sites such as blogger.com or wordpress.com won’t allow you to place affiliate links. Plus, you are at their mercy if they decide to change policies or shut down altogether!
  • You rank higher in search engines.

The advantage is clear – a self-hosted blog frees you to turn your blogging hobby into profit. You control the destiny of your blog, whether you’re interested in simply recommending your favorite products or making and selling your own some day.

If you don’t currently have a self-hosted blog, make today the day you dive in. I’d highly recommend Bluehost, who make the setup a complete breeze (especially if you’re a technophobe like me). And if you sign up through me, you’ll get it for less than the cost of a cup of coffee every month ($3.95), so it’s a win-win-win. Click here to sign up under Bluehost.

5. Take advantage of social media.

Social media is your friend! It is, in my opinion, the best free way to market your blog these days. Plus, there are dozens of different apps that will help make social media marketing a cakewalk, which I will cover in another post. However, many people get overwhelmed by thinking that they have to be everywhere online and that couldn’t be less true.

Just like it’s better to work with only a few well-chosen affiliates, you’ll get the most bang for your buck (or hours spent, anyway) by choosing only one or two social media platforms at the start. Different social media platforms have different user bases, so try to choose ones that you think your audience would use the most. Are most of your readers professionals? Consider LinkedIn. Have a mostly female audience? Consider Pinterest. If you’re not entirely sure which one or two to focus on, take a look at this infographic created by Mashable for some quick guidance.

The truth about affiliate marketing.

The truth is that affiliate marketing is an incredible thing and that anybody can make a healthy amount of money online with it. But I’d be lying if I said that it was easy, instant money.

You will always feel like you don’t quite know what you’re doing.

You will have times where you feel like you’re going crazy or that you’re going down a dead end.

But the truth is that there is no “perfect” time to start a blog and make it profitable with affiliate marketing. The only way to get better and to make the thousands that some bloggers see is by getting started now and putting in good ol’ elbow grease. You'll learn more in one month of doing than you will in one year of reading. Click To Tweet

But I am certain that if you put in the time and focus on resolving your readers’ most burning needs through well-written content and well-selected affiliates, you will be on the road to success. More important than great content, though, is a great marketing strategy. Whether it’s guest posting, social media use, or paid advertising, remember that your audience can’t see your amazing work if they don’t know about it. This is affiliate marketing, after all. 😉

Is there anything I missed? If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter!

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