Blog income – its what we strive for as bloggers, right? But DANG! It can be so difficult getting those links to convert to actual sales so you can make a commission! As a new blogger, you are tempted to just get out there and join every affiliate program that will accept you and then start dropping links like its hot! I'm guessing that strategy isn't working too well, right? I can totally relate because I did the same thing when I started my first blog. It can be frustrating but if you follow these tips you'll start seeing those commissions! These are the exact things I did to begin generating substantial monthly income from affiliate marketing.
Please note this post may contain affiliate links and ads, read my full disclosure HERE.
Side note: If you happen to have landed on this post and haven't quite yet started your blog, you definitely want to read this post on How to Start a Blog which includes video tutorials and a comprehensive course to walk you thru the steps!
Affiliate Marketing Made Easy
There are several key factors that affect your success with affiliate marketing. Randomly dropping links in a blog post or adding random banners to a sidebar typically won't produce the results you are wanting (if any at all). As a brand new blogger, you have no idea what your audience even wants because you don't have an audience yet! But don't worry! There are a few ways to learn what your audience likes and wants AND additional ways to generate affiliate income while you are figuring it out.
Start with Pinterest
Before you even begin adding affiliate links to your blog posts, you should be using Pinterest for affiliate marketing! Pinterest is quickly becoming the go-to place for making purchases in nearly all niche areas. Using Pinterest also enables you to branch out from the confines of your particular blog niche and promote other products as well. It also enables you to promote many different products without having to draft a blog post around them. I have a free basic course on Pinterest affiliate marketing that goes over the basics of how it works and how to get started. In a nutshell, you create images using Canva (or other programs), add your affiliate link for the particular merchant, and pin the image to a board. When someone searches for that type of product and comes across your pin, you will earn a commission if they make a purchase after clicking through your linked pin. Just think of all the things your search for on Pinterest and pins you've clicked on to get to another website. If you ended up making a purchase, you just helped another blogger earn a commission! Why not get in on that action? By the way, follow me on Pinterest so you can see all the cool affiliate pins I'm pinning!
Most Pinterest affiliate marketers start out with pay-per-click programs where they earn a very small commission when the pin is clicked on (regardless of a sale being generated). ShopStyle Collective has been the most popular, however, they are slowing rolling into a CPA (cost per action) format where you must generate a sale to earn a commission. Magic Links provides a combination of both PPC and CPA. I use both to maximize my reach and earn potential. Aside from PPC, you can join affiliate programs directly to promote a particular merchant's products/services. Many of them provide their own images for you to use which makes it even easier to promote them. The majority of my blog income is generated from Pinterest!
Test In-Post Text Links
Now that you have those affiliate links out there floating around Pinterest, you can focus on affiliate links on your blog. Most new bloggers are quick to apply to Amazon but I highly recommend against that! The reason is that you must generate three qualified sales during the first 180 days after being approved or they drop you. It can often take that long to begin generating decent traffic to your blog and build a following. Also, the cookie for Amazon links is only 24 hours. I would first begin with adding links using ShopStyle Collective and Magic Links because you'll be able to view the analytics from them to see what people are actually buying (not to mention cookies are longer and the merchants tend to have a higher commission rate). I'm not saying don't ever join Amazon, but you should definitely wait until you have a good idea of your audience. I see so many new bloggers freaking out because they get the notice from Amazon about not having made any sales and being dropped from the program.
1. Use a Plugin
The first thing you need to do is get the Pretty Links plugin. Most affiliate links are a long, random sequence of numbers, letters, and characters. With identity theft on the rise, shoppers are very hesitant about using their credit cards on websites when they see a weird URL. As a blogger, YOU know it's an affiliate link, but the general shopper doesn't know that. Pretty Links enables you to change the random sequence to a “prettier” and shorter URL.
For example, my affiliate link for Tasty Pins looks like this: https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=1109264&u=1561158&m=69860&urllink=&afftrack=
But with Pretty Links, it looks like this: https://girlbossesrock.com/tastypins
The second one looks much more “legit” than the first one and will result in higher conversions because the shopper will be more inclined to trust the link. After I installed the Pretty Links plugin, I went back to my older posts and switched out all the affiliate links with a Pretty Link and began seeing more conversions! Get Pretty Links now and watch those links convert! (FYI- if you are using Amazon, they don't allow the use of cloaking plugins so be sure to leave the Amazon links as they are!).
** Be sure you take a peek at my Top Affiliate Programs for Bloggers which lists affiliate programs broken down by niche.
2. Make sure it is relevant to your audience
Ensure the affiliate linked product is naturally used in the post and actually relates to your overall blog niche. All too often I see bloggers of a particular niche (such as parenting or travel) randomly publish a post to promote a blogging tool or some other cool thing they like and wanted to share. The problem is that it literally had nothing to do with their normal content! The easiest way to use an affiliate link is by doing a product review of something that your audience would use or that would make their life easier. Talk about how YOU found it useful or helpful and what makes it so great. You can also recommend a product in a post that isn't necessarily a product review by simply mentioning that you used it. Don't just drop links!! You need to tell them how this product will benefit them.
4. Sidebar Real Estate
Your sidebar is prime real estate so use it with intention. Don't add banners for every affiliate program you've joined! Also, don't overdo it! I've seen a few blogs that had banners stacked on top of each other and just looked messy and unorganized. Pick a few that are related to what you write about. If you are a parenting blogger, having a banner for your web host isn't going to help you. Instead, think about what places your (parenting) audience would want or need to shop. Possibly 1 or 2 popular fashion merchants – these should be places most moms would shop like Target, Kohls, etc and not high-end stores. When adding these banners, put them all on the same widget and title the widget something like “My Favorite Mom-gear Shops” or something catchy like that. You could also add a banner or two for places to buy kids clothes. Just remember, when choosing the merchants, consider your audience. Most parenting blogs talk about budgeting and saving money so a banner for a high-end merchant probably won't convert well. Make sense?
5. Gift Guides and Resource Pages
This is one of the most overlooked ways to generate blog income with affiliate links! You can create gift guides and resource pages using the “page” template so they don't show up in your regular blog feed. You simply link the page URL to a header menu, sidebar image, in a blog post, or a Pinterest pin.
Gift guides are easy – just relate the products to whatever holiday is coming up. Again – ensure the products that you are recommending in the guide relate to your audience! You can use a gallery plugin such as Gallery by Supsystic (free) to keep the products nicely organized on the page or to create multiple groups of products on the page. You can see this plugin in action here. Be sure to create pins for Pinterest so the gift guides will continue to generate commissions long after the holiday!
Resource pages are great because you can create them specifically for things your audience would need. For a parenting blog, a resource page could include things such as places to shop on a budget, homeschool resources, things to help mom get and stay organized, etc. A Christian blog could have resources for Christian women. Pretty much ANY niche could have a recommended reading list. Just get creative and think of all the things to make life easier for your audience. Create more than one resource page if you need to! Check out one of my blogger resource pages which contains free courses and resources for new bloggers! Think beyond your blog audience and create resource pages specifically to promote on Pinterest!
If you are brand new to blogging or maybe you've been at it a while and are still struggling, be sure to get on my email list because I send out weekly tips and resources, as well as deals and sales on your favorite blogging tools. You can also join my private FB community Girl Bosses Rock Blogging Bootcamp (women only) and get in on daily blog training threads and live weekly training!