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Income Stream 2 – Make Money with Affiliates

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I may earn a commission for purchases made through links in this post.

This is a beginners guide on affiliate marketing  with step-by-step on how to get started start making money with affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways for bloggers to make money with their websites. It can be the best source of passive income your blog can earn, if done the right way, potentially making you money for months and even years to come!

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is when you earn a commission for recommending a product to your readers.

When your readers make a purchase, you get a cut of the total sale.

The amount you make for each sale depends on the company, but it can be anywhere from 5% all the way up to 75%!

While that number sounds crazy, there are affiliate programs out there that pay out crazy amounts to bloggers to refer new customers especially when bloggers are the ones doing the heavy lifting of connecting readers with products.

Without bloggers like you, companies just have sizzling new products that will collect dust on the virtual stock shelf.

While it may seem that the hard part is creating a product and making a sales page for it, that's actually the easy part. The hard part is getting an audience to buy your product.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing works in 5 easy steps:

  1. Find a product or service you want to promote
  2. Sign up with an affiliate network to get a URL with your unique tracking ID
  3. Promote the product or service on your blog
  4. Earn a commission when someone makes a purchase
  5. Get paid, usually every two weeks

Sales are tracked by a unique URL you receive after signing up. It typically looks something like this:

https://www.affiliatelink.com/?trackingID=YOURCODE1234

When your affiliate link is clicked, a small file called a cookie is stored in the browser of the user's computer. If they complete the transaction, that information is passed to the affiliate program and the sale is credited to you.

Cookies do  have their limitations.

  • If a user clicks your link but completes the purchase on another browser (or another device), you get no credit.
  • The same applies if your affiliate link is clicked first, and then a week later they click someone else's affiliate link.
  • And you also won't get credit if too much time has elapsed between the click and the sale. The cookie-length depends on the company.

Affiliate Marketing Example

For this particular program, I get up to a astonishing 70% of all commissions if I am a contributor and 40% as a regular affiliate. If you don't have the time (or don't want to take the time) to create your own product you can use affiliate marketing and make (almost) the entire profit - without putting in the work of building a product.

To promote these products, I signed up with the affiliate network Ultimate Bundles and got my unique affiliate ID. 

Some affiliate programs will go as far as creating marketing material to help you promote their products. For example, product images, logos, and even complete email marketing funnels designed to sell their product.

Your only job then becomes to find an audience who is interested in their products.

Affiliate Disclosure Rules

Since you will be recommending products to your audience, you need to make it clear that there is a relationship between you and the advertiser.

This is called an affiliate disclosure and per FTC rules needs to be present before every blog post.

My affiliate disclaimer reads:

I may earn a commission for purchases made through links in this post.

While you might think that this reduces your conversion rate, it actually may do the opposite. By stating your affiliate relationships upfront you're not only following the law but being transparent with your audience, which only strengthens the trust you have with them.

make money with affiliates

Blogging and Affiliate Marketing

Blogs are made for affiliate marketing. It's the unobtrusive way to sell. 

With your blog,  you have the ability to build an audience of people who trust you. These are the people who will eat up every word you say and buy what you recommend.

Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Want to try affiliate marketing on your blog? Here are some pros and cons of using affiliate marketing on your blog before you get started.

Pros:

  • You can start making money with your blog right away
  • You can learn what sells best with your audience through trial and error
  • You learn not only what to sell, but how to sell
  • You don't have to spend months creating a product of your own
  • If an affiliate product doesn't sell well, simply replace it - and you're DONE
  • No need to worry about chargebacks, refunds, customer service, or inventory

Cons:

  • There's a middle-man between the customer's wallet and your bank account
  • You have no control over the sales page or the price
  • You have no control over the rate you are paid

Affiliate marketing is a way to make money blogging that is great for beginners. It's a stepping stone to creating and marketing your own products. It's also a testing ground to see what sells before you create your own products.

Imagine if you had spent months creating the perfect product - only to find out nobody wanted to buy it. This has happened to me more times than I'm willing to admit! With affiliate marketing, you eliminate the guess-work.

With affiliate marketing you can test which products sell the best. Then simply create your own version of that best-selling affiliate offer.

In addition to selling your own products when you are ready, you will also still promote complimentary affiliates too - that's TWO STREAMS OF INCOME.

How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

The first step is to sign up with an affiliate marketing program.

The one I recommend starting with is Amazon Associates. The reason being that when you're a new blogger, you don't yet have the trust built up to recommend products. It's better to borrow the trust that Amazon has and promote products that way.

Here's your 3-step action plan for getting started with Amazon Associates:

  • Sign up with Amazon Associates here
  • Log in and search for a product to promote
  • Copy the affiliate link and add it to a blog post

Best Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers

The best affiliate programs depend on your niche.

For the blogging and marketing niches, the affiliate programs I recommend are Bluehost for hosting and ConvertKit for email marketing.

For your niche, head over to Google and search for affiliate programs in your niche.

Another way of finding the best affiliate programs in your blog's niche is to look at the best blogs in your niche to see what they are promoting.

Those bloggers have already done the hard work of testing which products convert best, so it would be wise to learn from them.

Affiliate Marketing Networks

The benefit of signing up with an affiliate network is that you can promote multiple companies and the payouts are combined into one payment. This can make it easier to reach the minimum payment.

Here are the best affiliate networks to join:

And here are some other affiliate networks that focus more on selling physical products.

  • Flexoffers
  • Awin
  • Rakuten

Cloaking Your Affiliate Links

For this next part, you're going to use an affiliate link cloaking plugin like Pretty Links 

Here are 3 reasons why you need this plugin if you're going to do affiliate marketing:

1. Affiliate tracking theft

There's a couple of problems you're bound to run in to with affiliate marketing. One is something called cookie stuffing or cookie hijacking. This is when nefarious marketers use malware on infected browsers to switch affiliate codes to their own ID's.

2. More attractive URLs

Another advantage is that your affiliate links look more attractive. For example, it will convert URLs like this one:

https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=1547403&u=707977&m=50947&urllink=&afftrack=0

into something like this:

https://moneymachine.dwainiagrey.me/tailwind

3. Click reporting

Lastly, you're going to want to track your outgoing affiliate clicks. You need to find out who is clicking what to find your best-performing blog posts.

Getting this data is crucial to analyzing the performance of your blog posts and your affiliate links.

Affiliate Marketing Tips

After finding some products you want to promote and signing up to the affiliate program, the next step is to actually add affiliate links to your blog posts.

1. Learn to Pre-Sell 

Before you go adding random affiliate links everywhere, remember people don't just buy right away, they need to be warmed up first and then told what to do. 

You will be more successful if you pre-sell the product first by introducing the problem then offering the solution (the affiliate product). Repetition also helps as well.  Pre-selling is crucial to making any money with affiliate marketing.

2. Build Your Audience

If you want to make money with affiliate marketing, you need an audience who trusts in your recommendations.

And an email list is the perfect way to build that audience. I both use and recommend ConvertKit to start your email list. You can grow your tribe for free using this link, which unlocks sending emails to up to 1,000 subscribers.

3. Try the Product Before You Pitch to Your Audience

You shouldn't promote something you haven't tried first. Every single tool I promote on this blog has not only been personally vetted by me, but I actually use on a daily basis. By only recommending products that I use and that actually work, I'm building trust with my audience and making money.

4. Create Sales Centered Content 

Use your blog and emails to build trust. Then use that trust to convert into sales. Consistently provide value and become a trusted source of information. 

Create product review posts, step-by-step tutorials, and product comparison posts. This type of content is built to convert.

5. Add a Resources Page to Recommend Affiliates

Right on the menu of my blog I have a link to my resources or tools page. This is a page that every blog should have.

On this page, add links to the products and services you use and recommend - whether or not they are affiliate links.

6. Create an Email Sales Funnel to Promote Affiliates

The best way to make money with affiliate marketing is by recommending products to your email subscribers. To sell higher-priced affiliate products you need to warm up your audience a bit first. Your email list is a captive audience that wants to learn from you.

Your first few emails should describe a problem in your niche, why it's important to solve it, and finally introduce the solution to this problem (the affliate).

Affiliate Marketing Secrets

If you're a newbie to affiliate marketing I recommend starting with the Amazon Associates program to learn what types of products your audience wants.

Once you start making sales you can move on to other affiliate programs that pay a higher rate, but still focus on selling low-cost products.

The final frontier in affiliate marketing is moving on to selling higher-priced products and getting a higher commission! Here's the action-plan:

1. Promote high-priced products

In order to truly take advantage of affiliate marketing you need to move toward promoting high-priced products that pay a larger percentage of the sale.

While that's much easier said than done, it's a must if you want to make serious money with affiliate marketing.

2. Get to know your affiliate manager

I recommend messaging your affiliate manager and establishing a relationship with them early on. There's a few advantages that can really pay off for you:

  • They can create a custom sales page for your audience.
  • They can provide you with a coupon code to share with your readers.
  • They can increase your affiliate payout percentage.

Examples of Affiliates I use:

I use affiliate links in most of my blog posts but here are the ones I created specifically to promote an affiliate product.

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