As I’ve been writing this series on How to Make Money Blogging, I know that many of you have been scratching your head wondering if I was ever going to get around to talking about how to actually make money blogging! All the other posts I’ve shared will help significantly increase your blogging income, but they won’t make you a penny unless you set up streams of revenue on your blog.
And now that we’ve laid a good foundation for successful blogging, we’re ready to dive into those income-earning streams. The first — and easiest — is affiliate marketing.
For those who may have never heard the term of affiliate marketing before, it’s basically when you are paid to promote another person’s product, coupon, deal, or website. It’s typically CPA advertising — which means that you only get paid per action. In other words, a reader must take some form of action (purchase something, click through your link and sign up for something, download a coupon or ebook, etc.)
You sign up for an affiliate program (I’ll share some of my favorites in a little bit), you promote your unique affiliate link that the company gives you, and then you are paid if your readers buy the item or sign up for the item.
For instance, I promoted Amy’s Tell Your Time ebook earlier today. She has an affiliate program that offers 50% of the sales to the affiliate. Since the ebook is on sale for $2, I earn $1 for every person who clicks through my affiliate link and makes a purchase. So, if 100 people buy the ebook, I’ll make $100 in affiliate earnings.
In many cases, people have to make a purchase in order for you to earn money as an affiliate. However, there are also hundreds of other options that require no purchase. To give you an example, I’m affiliate for Coupons.com, RedPlum, SmartSource, and Coupon Network. If I post a great coupon that is on any of these sites, I earn anywhere from $0.02 to $0.80 per coupon printed (I have different agreements with each network and some pay per coupon printed, others pay a flat fee per print session per user per day).
As you can imagine, since one of the key focuses of MoneySavingMom.com happens to be using coupons, the affiliate money earned from coupons printed is one of the highest revenue earners. However, it is a win-win situation, because I’m sharing a great deal with you, it’s hopefully helping you save money and get a great deal, and then we both benefit from it.
With that background in place, here are my top five tips for maximizing affiliate advertising:
1. Don’t Compromise Your Values for a Quick Buck
Affiliate marketing can be an incredible income stream for bloggers, but there are some definite pitfalls to be wary of. You want to be very careful that you don’t just give something a great review or post about something because you’re earning something for promoting it.
I always stop and ask myself before posting something that includes an affiliate link, “Would I post about this if I were not earning a referral fee from it?”
2. Promote Affiliate Links In Your Posts Instead of Your Sidebar
I’ve found that it’s much more effective to weave affiliate links into your posts, rather than to just put affiliate links on the sidebar. If you’re already going to be writing about a site or product, check to see if they have an affiliate program so you can use your referral link.
3. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment
It takes awhile to learn what works when it comes to affiliate links. Don’t give up if you try it a few times and it doesn’t work or result in any sales or click-thrus. Keep testing things out, tweaking your approaches, and learning what works for your audience.
4. Be Upfront and Honest
In the last few months, I started denoting all posts that contain an affiliate link with a simple note at the bottom letting you know that the post contains an affiliate link. This way, you know exactly what you’re getting here and when I’m getting something in return. Not only have I received a lot of positive feedback from you all about this change, it also helps to keep me accountable in what I post to make sure I truly am following my policy to have your best interests in mind.
5. Remember That Less is More
A few strategically placed affiliate links are almost always going to be more effective than hundreds of affiliate links all over the place. It’s better to wait and only promote affiliate links that really fit within your blog’s mission and purpose than to post every other affiliate deal and opportunity that arises.
Your readers trust your endorsement more if it’s not something you give as often. If you don’t feel comfortable with something, don’t promote it.
My Current Top-Earning Affiliates (listed in order of their average earnings from the past few months):
- Logical Media
- Living Social
- Commission Junction
- Connect Commerce
- Panthera Network
- Coupon-printing (Coupons.com, RedPlum, SmartSource, and Coupon Network)
- Amazon (This would be higher up on the list, but Amazon recently bumped my affiliate earnings to a flat-rate of 0.8% on all sales, no matter how many items affiliate sales I have in a month. Their reasoning was that I am sending too many low-profit sales to them so they had to change the terms of my affiliate agreement.)
- There are also many other miscellaneous programs I am an affiliate for that occasionally will have a really great deal or offer bumping them up to higher on the list.
Amy has a great list of many different affiliate programs here, if you’re interested.
If you use affiliate marketing, I’d love to hear what programs have worked well for you, as well as some your best tips for maximizing your earnings with affiliate advertising.
(Note: Some of the links in this post are my referral links. Read our disclosure policy here.)