You have put in a lot of work making a great blog. You did your research and found your perfect niche. You strive to put out high-quality content, and you’ve become an expert in the area. People have started looking to you for advice, and you’ve gained quite a following.
Congratulations! It’s time to take the next step.
Now that you’ve worked hard for your blog, it is time to let your blog do the work for you. Whether you’re looking to recoup operating costs, make some pocket change for a few little splurges, save for a trip or house, or make this blog your new full-time job, you need to know how to monetize it.
One of the best ways to turn your blog into an income stream is with affiliate programs. These programs are run by some of the larger marketplaces online. They work as a partnership, where you earn money for sales they make as a direct result of your blog.
When you pair this affiliate passive income stream with AdSense, you can really start to turn a profit!
What Are Affiliate Programs?
Affiliate programs are partnerships. You can make money by promoting other people’s products for them. A portion of each sale they make through your affiliate link goes to you.
These programs are designed for influencers who don’t have products of their own to sell but carry a lot of influence in a given market. Recommending certain products and making them available to your following for purchase is helpful to businesses looking to make sales without placing ads all over the internet.
These are great programs as long as bloggers stay ethical. My advice is to make sure that you only choose affiliate products that you are happy to endorse. This protects your reputation from being tarnished by cheap products that consumers will wish they hadn’t wasted money on and allows you to genuinely represent products you love.
Affiliate Mistakes To Avoid
There are a lot of rules involved with a affiliate marketing. Their Terms of Service Agreements can be pretty long. Because of this, I decided to go ahead and cover a few of the common mistakes that can get you banned. There are a lot of obvious ones, but here are some seemingly innocent things that you must not do.
Amazon does not allow affiliates to use their affiliate link for “offline promotion or in any other offline manner.” This is not as clear as it seems. Emails require the Internet, right? That should make the use of it an online marketing tool. Unfortunately, because many platforms store downloaded emails for access offline, this counts against their terms of service.
If you want to use email marketing as a way to promote your link and sell some products, direct them back to your website, and have your affiliate link on that site, instead. It’s a win-win because you’ve circumvented the no emails policy ad and created some traffic back to your site, as well.
Link Cloaking And Hiding
While shortening a really long link using a shortening service seems innocent enough, it can do a lot of damage. This is seen as a very dirty sales tactic and it will harm your reputation with your following and get you banned quickly.
When funds start rolling in, it can be very tempting to focus on sales above anything else. Unfortunately, doing so often leads to hiding the fact that you’re being paid to advertise products.
Eventually, your readers will figure this out. They’re pretty smart. Once they figure out that you’ve been lying to them and using them for profit, they’ll be really upset and you will lose the following you worked so hard to gain.
Furthermore, websites also put their reputation on the line when they allow you to partner with them. Most of them believe in transparency.
They want people to know how they arrived to the site. They want users to know they have been redirected.
Go ahead and be transparent. Your users will appreciate that you have told them right away you’re advertising a specific product, and as long as you are willing to stake your reputation on it, they won’t mind.
The one exception to this hard and fast rule is that Amazon allows you to use their site’s URL shortener. Their affiliates are allowed to shorten their link, but only if they use Amzn.to.
Using Your Own Link To Shop
This one is extremely straightforward and there is no grey area. Do not use your own link to shop online with your affiliates. They do not appreciate when you help yourself to a discount. Trust me, that small percentage off is not worth losing your revenue stream.
Never mention the price of an item. Most online marketers are constantly running sales and deals. Prices fluctuate based on demand and popularity. Mentioning a specific price of an item will make your website irrelevant the second it changes.
It also creates issues with market affiliate hosts. If you quoted your followers a certain price and it has since increased, they may become angry with the retailer for not honoring your sale. This can get you banned.
Amazon Affiliate Program
One of the giants in online retail is Amazon. Naturally, this means they have one of the largest affiliate programs. Because of this, I’ll spend a bit of time going over how to put Amazon products on your website.
Amazon offers somewhat lower commissions than several other places, but they are a giant in the industry. They’re trusted and that holds a lot of weight. Find your niche market and drill in deep, and trust me, you’ll start making some great money.
Know The Rules
There are a lot of rules involved with Amazon. My first piece of advice is to take the time to do your homework. Amazon has even more rules than the list I made, and if you don’t follow all of them carefully, you will be banned with no questions asked.
You can find their agreement here, and I suggest reading it in full and asking any questions you have before signing up for the program.
One of the larger rules involved with Amazon is identification. You must identify yourself as an Amazon Associate and explain the affiliate program on your website.
One of the ways to add affiliate products to your website is with buttons. We’ll talk about some of the options later, but with Amazon you must use only their provided buttons. You can’t just grab any button off Google, even if it looks gorgeous compared to the ones Amazon allows access to, because Amazon has cultivated their brand identity and wants to be easily identified. Their buttons aren’t as pretty, but they’ll keep you in the program.
Official Approval Happens Upon Sale
Amazon only reviews your website once your first purchase is made, and you only have 180 days to sell something. Make sure that you have an active readership before signing up so you don’t run across an issue with being able to sell things. Amazon invites you to re-apply any time if this is the reason for your rejection but also recommends you wait until you have enough active users.
If you’re still asking how to add affiliate products to your website, then Amazon makes that really easy.
Log in to your Associates control panel. There should be a Quick Links: Search for Product box. Enter the item you’re searching for, and it will pull up some relevant products. When you see the one you want, simply click the Get Link button.
This takes you to a builder that will allow you to customize your Amazon Affiliate link. If you want to use it in WordPress, you need to choose text only or image only. Text links are great to embed in reviews. Image links contain the image displayed on the Amazon listing, and allow you to add your own text.
Once it generates links, you can just go ahead and post to your site!
Affiliate Tracking Codes
The tracking code is how you receive credit for your referrals. Each affiliate is given a specific URL for themselves. When users click through to the affiliated site, the URL drops a cookie into the link. This cookie is usually active for about a day throughout the entire site. This means that if they buy anything on your affiliate’s marketplace while the cookie is active, you will receive credit for the referral. This is why it is critical to use your link appropriately.
I would recommend using this method if you are involved with multiple affiliate networks. This stores information on a merchant server. When visitors click your tracking link, a network adds an ID tag to the URL. This means that merchant servers know when that lead was generated by your affiliation.
How To Add Affiliate Products To Your Website
Now, let’s take a look at some of the ways to add links to your website. There are a few different methods people use.
One of the best ways to sell something is to review it. Find a product that you believe in and use it. Show some images of yourself with this product and talk about some of the reasons you love it. Including a call-to-action with your affiliate link to the product at the end is one of the easiest ways to sell this product on your site.
The most aesthetically pleasing way to make sure your affiliate link is displayed throughout your website is by using plug-ins.
There are tons of different plug-ins available for your site, especially if you use WordPress. One of my favorites is Pretty Links. This plug-in manages all the different places your link gets posted.
WordPress has designed tons of different automatic affiliate link plug-ins to make your life easier. You can use them to set links and keywords for the products you endorse or allow the plug-ins to deduce them automatically from some of the major sites, like Amazon and ClickBank.
Explore a few options and find the one you like best, because they all do a similar job. It will be a control panel that changes, and everyone has a different visual preference and method that is more intuitive for their experience.
Using plug-ins is a great way to add affiliate products to your content. Sales can be driven through transparency and by advertising products you genuinely believe in and endorse. Make sure to follow the rules.
Now, it’s up to you to find the programs you love the most! To get you started, here’s a list of the top 20 affiliate networks!