If you’ve just started in the blogging world and have done even a little bit of research into monetizing your blog, you’ve likely wondered what affiliate marketing is and whether you need it on your blog.
It may sound a little daunting when you’re getting started, but it’s actually one of the best and easiest ways to monetize your blog!
Affiliate marketing is actually what Alex and I used to earn our very first bit of income on our first blog, and we now earn over $50,000/month in affiliate marketing revenues alone!
There are a lot of pros and cons and advantages and disadvantages to consider when using affiliate marketing to monetize your blog, and we’re going to cover all of them in this article.
But first… Let’s cover some basics.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when you promote other people’s products and in return earn a commission on the products that you sell.
This commission can be a set amount or a percentage of the sale and is determined by the company/owner of the affiliate product.
These commissions often range anywhere from 15-70% of the product sales price.
Why would anyone give away 70% of their sales!?
Because YOU are doing most of the work for them by driving additional traffic to their sales page, and they reward you for that.
You see, once a sales page is set up and someone knows that it’s converting well, they get to kick back and watch the sales roll in – as long as there is consistent traffic to the page.
Driving the traffic is often one of the hardest parts!
Affiliates must drive that traffic to the sales page and often also take the time to educate (pre-sell) the consumer on the product before they even visit the sales page.
Affiliate companies reward their affiliates for this, and they also often have high commissions to remain competitive. They want you to promote THEIR product or service rather than their competition’s, so they keep their commissions competitively priced.
Affiliate marketing programs on networks (discussed in more detail later in this article)
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
After signing up for an affiliate program, you will receive an affiliate link to the product’s sales page. This special affiliate link is what you use to drive traffic to the sales page and how your sales are tracked.
When someone clicks your affiliate link, a cookie is attached to their browser that tracks whether or not that person purchases the product from your link.
These cookies generally last anywhere from 30-365 days, which means that if someone clicks your link and purchases anytime within that cookie’s period, you will receive a commission from that sale.
The affiliate company decides how long this cookie length is, and you can find out how long it is by reading over their affiliate terms and conditions.
The sales that you make from your affiliate link are tracked, and most companies will pay you for the sales between 30 and 90 days after the sale is made (to make sure that no returns or refunds are requested).
Here is an example…
We are an affiliate for ConvertKit, an email marketing software that we use and recommend to our bloggers.
The link above is an affiliate link. If you click that link and decide to sign up for ConvertKit, we may receive a commission for it (after you complete your free trial and pay for your first month).
We have affiliate links throughout our articles when we discuss products or services that are relevant to our audience and also in our courses and our emails.
Why Affiliate Marketing is the Best Way to Start Monetizing Your Blog
The #1 reason to start out with affiliate marketing when trying to monetize your blog is that it provides the best balance of risk and reward.
Perhaps the easiest way to make money blogging is through putting ads on your blog.
It’s fairly easy to set up and 100% passive.
The problem is that the lowest risk also comes with the lowest reward. For every 100 visitors you get to your blog, you’re going to make pennies rather than dollars.
On the other end of the spectrum, creating and selling your own products is generally the best way to make the most money.
But it also comes with the highest risk.
It takes time and money to create your own products and if you end up creating a product that your audience doesn’t like or that you don’t know how to sell properly, you’ve wasted even more time and money.
We would know because this happened to us.
When we first started blogging, we created a diet and fitness plan that we thought was just AWESOME:
But guess what…
Our audience didn’t agree.
We didn’t know our target customer was, what they wanted, or how to sell anything to them.
With affiliate marketing, you can promote different products and services to your audience with generally no investment of money and far less investment of time.
If you have trouble selling one product or your audience doesn’t like it, you can try another one.
This trial and error process is how you will learn more about who your target customer is, what they want and need, and how you can sell it to them.
What are the disadvantages to affiliate marketing?
As we stated above, less risk means less reward.
Because you don’t own the product, you can’t control the price of the product or your margins.
If the sales page kind of sucks, you can’t do anything to improve it.
You are also sometimes limited in how you can promote the product.
For example, some affiliate companies have strict rules on what you can say and whether or not you can offer bonuses and incentives to your readers for signing up.
On top of that, you also have to follow other rules and regulations relating to affiliate marketing and disclosures.
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission is the governing body over consumer purchase behavior online, and you must also follow their rules regarding online marketing and advertising:
In short, you must disclose affiliate relationships to your readers, and there are certain rules on how this information must be disclosed.
This applies to blog articles, videos, social media posts, etc.
You can read the FTC’s Endorsement Guides for more information on what is required.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing
As a blogger, the best way to get started with affiliate marketing is to begin adding affiliate links to the articles on your blog.
The best affiliate program to start out with is Amazon affiliate program.
The Amazon Associates program allows you to link Amazon products in your articles and earn a commission from those products and others purchased on Amazon.
The cookie length is only 24 hours and the commissions are quite low, but it can be a good, passive way to earn a couple hundred dollars/month.
This is how Alex and I earned our first $85.62 of blogging income.
It may not seem like much, but it was the first bit of income we had earned from our blog and it meant the world to us.
It helped us cover some of our blogging costs and it’s grocery money, people!
If you’re looking to make that first couple hundred dollars with your blog, you can check out our article below on getting started with Amazon Associates:
In addition to linking Amazon products, you can also do a simple Google search for affiliate programs in your niche.
You’ll come across various affiliate programs and networks through this method.
For example, if you were in the pet niche and ran a Google search for “pet affiliate programs,” you’d find a link on the first page for Petco’s Affiliate Program.
You could then check out their program and see how affiliate referrals work, how much they pay, when they pay, what rules they have for promoting, etc.
You can join as many different affiliate programs as you want through this method. Just make sure that the company and the products are a good fit for you and your audience.
Best Affiliate Marketing Programs and Networks for Bloggers
In addition to signing up for Amazon Associates and looking at individual affiliate programs, Alex and I also incorporated affiliate networks into our affiliate marketing strategy.
These large networks exist to connect you with affiliate companies and products. You can use their platform to search for popular products in your blog niche.
Here is an example of some search results in the fitness niche on Shareasale:
As you can see above, different programs offer different commission percentages on sales. Some of them also offer straight dollar amounts — not percentages.
But you can’t compare commission percentages alone because the sales price matters.
This is why they also advertise the average EPC, or earnings per click, so you can better compare average earnings between companies.
The company above with the highest commission percentage (75%) also has the lowest earnings per click, which means that the sales price for that product(s) must be much lower than the other programs.
Some popular affiliate networks include:
These products can also be promoted in your articles, videos, emails, social media, etc. Just make sure to read over the affiliate company’s terms and conditions before promoting the product as rules will vary between companies.
Additional Resources on Affiliate Marketing
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into successful affiliate marketing campaigns, including:
- Learning who your target customer is and what they want
- Choosing the right product to offer to your audience
- Promoting those products in your articles
- Incorporating email marketing to scale your affiliate marketing income
- Getting good enough at the sales process to promote higher-priced products or services
These are the strategies that we teach in our Make Money Blogging for Beginners Course, which is all about how to make your first $1,000/month through affiliate marketing and other strategies.
It also includes lessons on driving traffic through various platforms to get visitors to your blog as well as on email marketing to convert those readers into buyers.
You can check out our Make Money Blogging for Beginners Course for more information on how to get started!
Six Tips for Making Six Figures
For all of you preferred video learners out there, here is a video on Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers from our Youtube Channel below.
.For more free blogging tips and tricks from us, make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel!
Affiliate marketing was one of the big turning points behind turning Avocadu, our health and wellness blog, into a six-figure blog.
Now, between both of our blogs, we earn six figures from affiliate marketing alone.
Taking two separate blogs both to six figures has taught us a LOT about affiliate marketing.
Even the things that most people seem to skip over or miss for whatever reason.
These are our top tips below for earning six figures through affiliate marketing on your blog.
Pay attention to your competitors.
There are quite a few high-earning bloggers out there making six figures solely from affiliate marketing, but here is the interesting thing about it:
You also won’t be able to find many that report income on affiliate earnings.
Because affiliate marketing is highly competitive.
Sharing your affiliate earnings information and secrets will drive UP the competition and drive DOWN your profits.
This is why 99% of six-figure affiliate marketers keep the details on their affiliate earnings pretty tight-lipped.
But even if you don’t know how much they are making, you can still pay close enough attention to see what they are promoting and how they are promoting it.
Here screenshot from one of our health and wellness articles that was written to promote a few different meal delivery services that we are an affiliate for:
The above article contains links as well as banners for the affiliate products.
Take a look at some of the top blogs in your niche and look for:
- What products and services they are recommending to their audience
- Where they are promoting these products and services (articles, emails, etc.)
- How they are promoting them (what they are saying, how the content is structured, etc.)
This can give you ideas of what might work for your audience — IF you blog on similar topics or have a similar audience.
Look for higher-priced products.
You’ll never make six-figures from the only using Amazon links on your blog. Trust me.
After two years, we’re still only up to an average of $600 – $1,000/month with Amazon.
This past month was on the higher side for us, but you can still see how little we made for the number of products we sold:
Of the 14,867 clicks we had on our links, we only sold 1,075 products and made $1,090.66.
That means that we only made an average of $1.01 per product sold.
The bloggers making six figures using affiliate marketing are all selling higher-priced affiliate products.
- Promoting expensive courses (think $200+ range)
- Marketing expensive equipment (drones, cameras, etc.)
- Reviewing expensive services (hosting, CPM software, etc.)
There is no exception here.
The volume of sales you would have to make at $5 – $20 per sale from a low-priced product to make it to six figures is crazy. You’d need something in the ballpark of 10 million readers per month to make that work.
Or a massive email list of millions of subscribers.
That’s not to say that $5-$20 sales aren’t worth your time.
You just need to have the right expectations in place when you start with lower-priced products.
It’s a great place to start while you’re learning what products work and how to sell to your audience, but higher-priced products are the only real way to reach six figures with affiliate marketing.
There is also another factor related to this at play here…
Your niche matters.
Plain and simple: There is an average market price for products in various niches.
Weight loss products, on average, tend to be priced FAR lower than products in the money and finance niche.
We have learned from experience that sales in the health and wellness industry are pretty volume-focused.
Weight loss is one of the most-searched topics in the world, so there is a ton of traffic to be had. But the average product price is pretty low.
People are used to paying low prices, so trying to get them to pay for $500 for a weight loss course would be VERY difficult.
So, the better strategy is to focus on increasing the volume of sales (traffic) rather than selling higher-priced courses (far more difficult).
This means that affiliate marketing is not the right path to take a health and wellness blog to six figures.
A lesson that we learned pretty early on…
That’s why, in our niche, affiliate marketing is a small, supplemental part of our total income (about an extra $500 – $1,000 per month), but the real money lies in creating our own products.
But compare that to this blog…
On Avocadu, the average product price is $37. On Create and Go, the average course price is $197.
With Create and Go, we focus more on sales and conversions than traffic because far less traffic is needed when your sales price is higher.
BUT… on that note…
The higher the price of the product, the harder it is to sell to your audience.
We still started with affiliate marketing, even on our health and wellness blog, because…
Affiliate marketing will teach you how to sell.
We made our first real bit of money with Avocadu selling a yoga product via affiliate marketing.
Selling those first few products marked the first time we started making actual income online (the $300/month from Amazon Associates was barely covering blogging expenses).
In fact, our first $20 day, $50 day, and $100 day were all a result of promoting that first product.
But more importantly than the initial bit of income, it taught us HOW to sell digital products.
So much so that when we decided to create our own product, we made sales right from the get-go.
This is because we already had a sales funnel in place designed to sell a yoga product for weight loss [successfully].
We already had…
- New visitors signing up for our email list every day
- A sequence of emails designed to educate readers on the topic (yoga for weight loss)
- A sales pitch at the end that converted those readers into buyers
We discuss more about how to create this system [sales funnel] in our Make Money Blogging for Beginners Course.
But there are downsides…
Remember that you don’t own the affiliate product.
This is going to be the risk you take, and some of that risk is impossible to avoid.
For instance, let’s say you make 85% of your income from the sales of ONE affiliate product.
If a company decides to lower their affiliate commissions or make changes to their affiliate program that are NOT in your favor, your income stream can be immediately cut off.
Your money tree has been struck by lightning in the night.
It’s just how it goes. You’re always taking that risk when you don’t own the product.
Now, it is incredibly rare for an affiliate program to do this. If you’re both making money and the customers are happy, why stop?
It’s just something that you must be aware of if you are putting all your eggs in that basket.
And finally, one of the best parts of affiliate marketing is…
The sales process is super similar to selling other digital products.
If you can sell an affiliate product, you can sell your own product(s).
That’s because the sales process is always, always, always about the relationship you build with others.
A proper relationship looks something like:
- Establish initial curiosity and intrigue.
- Allow for a follow-up.
- Increase the strength of the relationship.
This is the same no matter what you are selling. But, I will say that 95% of six-figure bloggers make their money selling digital products and services.
Even affiliate marketers end up learning that it works better to own the product than to just promote it.
But here is the most important lesson of all…
You should start out with affiliate marketing to teach you HOW to sell before investing the time and money creating our own product(s).
This is the mistake that we made when our first blog failed and why we structured our blogging courses the way that we did.
How to Scale Affiliate Marketing Income
There are a few different ways to turn a few hundred dollars per month into a few thousand or more dollars per month.
These are the two main strategies that have worked very well for us personally.
Combine Affiliate Marketing with Email Marketing
You can link affiliate products in your articles all day long, but you won’t convert too many people that way.
The more trust you build with your audience before you ask for a sale, the more likely you are to make that sale.
The best way you can build trust with your audience is through an email list.
Sending emails to your audience allows you a chance to build a better connection with your reader by
- telling them more about yourself,
- explaining why you do what you do,
- and providing them with valuable and useful content.
This connection builds trust and trust makes them more likely to purchase a product from you.
We teach more about building email sales funnels for affiliate products in our Make Money Blogging for Beginners Course.
You can also learn more about how to build your email list in this article.
Promote High-Priced Products
The other way to make more money with affiliate marketing is through selling higher-priced products.
Higher-priced affiliate products = Higher commissions.
This principle is plain and simple:
- 50% of Product A that costs $100 will net you a $50 commission.
- 50% of Product B that costs $10 will net you a $10 commission.
Let’s say you make 10 sales per month.
You will earn $500 with Product A and $50 with Product B.
It seems simple enough, but you need to know that it’s also much harder to sell higher-priced products and services.
It’s generally a good idea to start out with lower-priced products as you are getting to know your audience, what they want, and how to best sell to them.
When you have a good handle on that, you can move on to the tougher sales.
What was your biggest takeaway? What are you going to implement TODAY after reading this article?
We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!