Affiliate marketing is one way that bloggers make money online. But what is it? And, how hard is affiliate marketing?
If you are building a blog to make money online, affiliate marketing is one income stream option. And if you’re new to blogging you’re probably wondering if affiliate marketing is hard to do? Let’s start with the basics.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is essentially a revenue sharing agreement where you promote a product and receive a commission if someone makes a purchase based on your marketing efforts.
In simpler terms, you write content on your blog that links to a product with a tracking code. If someone clicks your link and purchases the product, you receive a percentage of the sale. The percent you receive will depend on the agreement between you and the product seller.
What do you need to be successful at affiliate marketing?
You need to build awesome content that speaks to the needs of your target readers and connects them to the relevant products that you are promoting. And beyond writing content, you also need to understand how to promote your blog in order to pull in readers. No readers means no clicks and therefore no income.
You also need to make sure you’re promoting the right types of products that your audience is interested in, while sounding authentic and not pushy. Building trust with your readers will be important to help them convert from a reader into a buyer.
How much work is affiliate marketing?
In order to be successful at affiliate marketing, you will need to put in the work. Research products that are interesting and useful to your target audience. You need to write the content in a way that is authentic. You’re promoting a product that you believe in because it fills a need of your target audience.
Finding the right products and signing up for the affiliate marketing programs will take time, especially if there’s a review process to be accepted into the program. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not accepted initially. You may need to continue to add more content and build a blog that the product seller wants to have a relationship with. Just like blogging in general, this is not a get-rich-quick schema.
My 4 Favorite Affiliate Marketing Tips
Here’s a few of my favorite affiliate marketing tips to help you decide if this income approach is right for you and your blog.
Write awesome content that helps your reader in their purchase decision making process
One of the biggest complaints I see from the bloggers in Facebook groups is their affiliate marketing content isn’t resulting in income. What I’ve found when reading their blog posts, more often than not, is they simply scattered affiliate links in existing blog posts and assumed the money would start rolling in. It’s either the wrong product for the target reader OR the reader isn’t in a mindset for making a purchase.
If the reader isn’t thinking about making a purchase, an impulse buy in an unrelated activity is going to have a lower conversion rate (a purchase rate essentially). If the reader is thinking about buying the product or has a problem that the product solves, the conversion will be higher. You are helping the reader in their decision making process while they’re already thinking about buying. In that case, you are not trying to change your reader’s task, you’re helping them complete a goal.
Choose the right keywords to bring traffic into your blog
You need readers in order to make money from affiliate marketing. If you are in the early stages of building your email list (another option for affiliate marketing), SEO will be important to connect readers with your content.
As I just mentioned, you need to write content that helps someone as part of their purchase research goal, not focus your income strategy around the hopes of people making impulse buys.
Spend time doing keyword research for the types of searches people will do as part of the pre-purchase research. Maybe they’re looking for reviews, or product comparisons. Round ups of products within a particular category also perform well.
Keywords that describe problems are also useful. You could help the reader solve a problem by pointing them to a product that fills a need.
As a new blogger, look for keywords that support the research process AND don’t have great targeted content today. Writing a focused blog post that fills a content gap is a ranking opportunity for you that will hopefully result in affiliate marketing income.
Make sure the affiliate links are easy to find
One of the other problems I’ve noticed when reviewing affiliate marketing content is that the links are hard to find. Make sure your links stand out from the rest of your content. You can’t expect someone to click a link they don’t realize is clickable, or skim right past.
Remember you can write great content that helps your reader decide to buy the product, but if no one clicks the link then you won’t make any money for your efforts.
For example, make sure the links are brighter color than your regular post text, and consider using “bold” to help them stand out. The links need to stand out without SHOUTING! You’ll loose trust if it comes across as pushy or overly-promotional. A call to action button or link will also help your reader take the next step towards a purchase.
Read the affiliate program agreement, and follow the rules
If you want to be accepted into an affiliate program, and don’t want to risk being kicked out, make sure you know the terms of the agreement. If you break the rules, you may find yourself out of the program (and possibly loosing commissions not yet paid out).
For example, Amazon Associated (the Amazon Affiliate Marketing program) has rules about where you can put links and the wording you need to use to identify yourself as a program member. I’ve seen many bloggers be rejected by the program for using the wrong wording or displaying prices. Using links on unapproved social media platforms could also result in removal from the program.
While you may see others “breaking the rules”, it’s going to matter to you if you get caught and are removed from the program.
Wrapping up. What do you think? Is affiliate marketing hard?
Before you start creating your own products or services to sell on your blog, affiliate marketing is one option to build an income to support your independent lifestyle. The key will be to focus your time and effort on the right things.
You will need to put in the work to identify the right products for your audience and write awesome content that speaks to your reader’s purchase research process. You’ll also need to build your content marketing skills to bring readers into your blog.
So over to you. Have you tried affiliate marketing? What worked for you or where are you struggling?
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