Many bloggers manage to make a full-time income based on their website traffic alone. Often, these bloggers don’t seem to have any visible ads on their site. So how are they making money? In many cases, the secret is affiliate marketing. What is affiliate marketing? Get the basics below and learn how to incorporate affiliate marketing into your own website.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
What is affiliation exactly? In a nutshell, it is a form of revenue sharing. If you are an affiliate, you can make a commission based on every sale you help facilitate. With the help of the internet, you can facilitate those purchases through your blog, your website or even your social media profile.
Imagine that you’re a healthy living blogger. You are seeing your audience increase rapidly each week, and you’re gaining a reputation as an expert in nutritional supplements and healthy foods. You might start adding in affiliate links to your regular blog content. If a consumer clicks on one of your affiliate links and purchases the product you promote, then you’ll make a small profit.
Typically, the affiliate earns a set percentage of the total sale amount. Occasionally, an affiliate may earn a set amount for each sale, regardless of the sale value. The percentage is usually small, but it can add up quickly for those with a large readership.
Affiliate marketing isn’t just something reserved exclusively for bloggers. Affiliate links can be incorporated into any website, and they can also be used in social media. Instead of a link, some affiliates can share codes. Whenever a person uses that code to make a purchase, the affiliate makes his or her percentage.
The Three Parties Involved in Affiliate Marketing
One way to answer the question “What is affiliation?” is this: It’s an agreement between three parties in which every party benefits. The three parties in affiliate marketing are the seller, the publisher and the consumer.
The seller is the company selling a particular product or service. Anyone can set up an affiliate program, and you certainly don’t need to have a big company. In fact, many smaller businesses find success in affiliate marketing. That’s because affiliates take on much of the marketing work, allowing new businesses to focus on their products and fulfilling sales. Of course, plenty of sellers are also large, multinational corporations like Amazon.
The publisher is the blogger, social media personality or website owner who acts as the affiliate. They are, essentially, affiliated with the seller. They have a vested interest in completing the sale because they make a profit every time someone uses their code or link to buy something from the seller. Typically, an affiliate or publisher will have a signed contract with the seller outlining the terms of the arrangement.
The third and final party is the consumer. This is the buyer, or the person who clicks on an affiliate link or uses an affiliate code in order to purchase a product from the seller. It’s important to remember that the consumer also benefits from this relationship. They can access an expert review of the product before making their decision to buy something, and they may even enjoy a discounted price as a result of the affiliate link or code.
How to Find Affiliates to Market Your Products
If you are a business owner who wants to increase sales, then you may want to establish an affiliate program. Recruiting affiliates means that you’ll have a marketing and sales team ready to promote your products or services to a niche audience.
One effective way to search for affiliates is to look at your existing customers. Head to social media to see who is talking about your products already. If there are influential voices that already like your products and talk about them for free, you’ve found ideal candidates for affiliate marketing. These are genuine voices, and their networks will be more responsive to your brand as a result.
How to Become an Affiliate
At the other end of the spectrum, you might be ready to become an affiliate yourself. The best way to get started is to decide on a niche area. Affiliates are the most successful when they are experts in a certain field. You’ll need to show your audience that your reviews and recommendations are worthwhile.
As an expert in your field, you’ll also be more attractive to sellers with affiliate programs. The best affiliate programs are the ones that match your existing interests. It is rarely a good idea to base your content around an affiliation. Instead, choose an affiliate program that matches your passions, website content or existing audience.
Encouraging People to Click Your Affiliate Links
Now, you’re an official affiliate and connected to a seller. What comes next? You need to incorporate your affiliate links or codes into your content and ensure that your audience has access to them.
In order to succeed in the world of affiliate marketing, you have to have content. Very few potential buyers are interested in affiliate links on their own. Instead, they need to be nestled in appealing and interesting content. If you’re a knitting blogger, then you might write a post about a specific kind of yarn. After reviewing the yarn, you can include a hyperlink that leads to the product on the seller’s page. In this way, you’re providing useful content as well as presenting the affiliation. You could also say the affiliate code in a video review of the yarn, or you might include the code in the caption of an Instagram post featuring a picture of the product.
Getting Paid for Your Affiliate Links
Publishers, or affiliates, typically don’t get paid every time a consumer makes a purchase. Instead, they will get paid every 30, 60 or even 180 days. The specifics of every affiliate program will be outlined in the contract. However, it’s important to treat this income as any other legitimate source of income. It will be taxed, and it needs to be formally declared. Keep in mind that payment might be made through a bank transfer or through a third party like PayPal. In some cases, affiliates won’t earn cash; instead, they will get credit to buy their own products from the seller. This is especially common among micro-influencers on social media.
Types of Affiliate Programs
If you’re someone who creates content for a blog, website or social media, then you might be ready to dive into the world of affiliate marketing. There are so many affiliate programs out there that it can feel overwhelming to weed through them all. Finding the best affiliate programs is easier said than done. Explore some of the most common types of affiliate programs in order to decide on the format that will work best for you and your business.
Many affiliate programs are small and operated by a single seller. Small businesses may reach out to bloggers, existing customers or online influencers to form partnerships. This can be a great way to get started in affiliate marketing because it is a relatively straightforward process.
As an affiliate, you’ll get a hyperlink or a code to share with your network. Then, you’ll receive a share of the revenue with each sale that you facilitate. This kind of affiliate program works best for individuals who are already fans of a specific product or service. A bodybuilder on Instagram, for example, might become an affiliate for a company that sells protein bars. This is a natural connection. The affiliate bodybuilder may get paid once a month via PayPal, or they might receive credit to purchase their own protein bars at cost. The more consumers use your affiliate code, the more you benefit from the relationship.
Another type of affiliate system is a pay-per-click affiliation. Affiliates still have a link to share with followers and prospective customers. However, there doesn’t necessarily need to be a sale.
In this system, the affiliate gets paid for every click on their link. If the bodybuilder in the example above is promoting a protein bar brand with an affiliate link, every click might net them a few cents. The more unique clicks on the link, the more money the bodybuilder will earn.
There are both pros and cons to this type of affiliate program. It can be easier to generate income because you get rewarded for curious customers, not just completed sales. However, the amount earned per click is typically much less than you might earn from a sale. Pay-per-click affiliation typically works best for affiliates with a very large audience.
The alternative to a pay-per-click affiliate program is a pay-per-sale affiliate program. This is by far the more common system, and it can be more profitable to both sellers and affiliates. Affiliates will earn a set price or a percentage of any sale that gets completed through their link or code.
The pay-per-sale affiliate program also has lower risks for sellers. Businesses won’t have to pay anything to their affiliates unless they make a sale. In this way, it is a safer option. Affiliates also have a vested interest in making sure that customers complete the sale.
Arguably the biggest affiliate program in the world is Amazon Associates. But, what is affiliation through Amazon exactly? It is a pay-per-sale affiliate program that encourages affiliates to facilitate sales through Amazon.com.
Amazon has more than 1 million sellers that offer products on this enormous website. Therefore, affiliates will always be able to find something to promote. Whether you are a blogger interested in fashion or you’re a mechanic talking about vintage car repair, there will be some kind of product that you can promote through Amazon Associates.
Amazon Associates is also very user-friendly. Signing up takes just minutes, and establishing affiliate links or images is also simple. Plus, consumers probably already use Amazon. This means they are more likely to complete a purchase because they feel comfortable with the sales platform. The biggest downside to Amazon Affiliates is that the percentage is low. Commission rates tend to hover around 4 percent. That’s on the lower end for affiliate programs, which means that you need to facilitate a lot of sales in order to make a substantial profit.
eBay Partner Network
Another of the largest affiliate programs in the world is the eBay Partner Network. The commission rates through eBay’s affiliate program is higher than through Amazon, making it a favorable choice for affiliate bloggers and social media personalities. You’ll also find a wide range of products, but many of them are used. This may be a problem, depending on the niche area of your content.
Another benefit of eBay affiliation is that affiliates can earn a commission every time someone clicks on their affiliate link and creates an eBay account. This is separate from the sales percentage, and it can often be anywhere from $25 to $35 USD. This is a substantial amount, and it can add up quickly for those who have a larger audience or network.
Advanced Affiliate Techniques
You may have already memorized the answer to the following question: What is affiliate marketing? While affiliate marketing is simple enough for virtually anyone to understand and benefit from, you might be ready to explore advanced techniques. Here are some advanced strategies and tips to increase your affiliate marketing revenue.
Get Ahead of Seasonal Products
Experienced affiliate marketers know that there can be big profits in seasonal products. However, far too many affiliates only start thinking about offering links and product codes in the days before a particular holiday arrives. To increase profit potential, you’ll need to stay weeks ahead of seasonal product sales.
Buyers typically don’t purchase holiday items the day before the holiday begins, at least not when it comes to online sales. Instead, they may purchase items a week or two in advance. Because it may take time for a link to go live, and then longer still for a search term to come up on search engine results, it pays to work far ahead of schedule. Halloween links should go up at the end of September, and Fourth of July products need to be linked by the first week of June.
Track Your Outgoing Links
Some new affiliate publishers see initial success and are happy to sit back and let it continue. However, it is still critical to track your outgoing links. That way, you can see what links readers are clicking and which posts are leading to the most sales. This is helpful for your own data, but it can also help you recreate success. If you notice that certain posts are doing especially well, you can continue to promote them. If other posts do poorly, you can avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Add Affiliate Links to Older Posts
Very few people start affiliate linking on day one. Many successful bloggers write blog posts for years before they ever start to monetize their content. That’s perfectly normal, and there is no need to become an affiliate right away. Nonetheless, you can still optimize your older posts.
If you’ve been blogging for several months or years, you might have a handful of posts that contain evergreen content. This is content that people continue to read and benefit from long after it was written. On these posts, you can go back to add affiliate links. The affiliate link or code will still be effective, even if the post is weeks, months or years old. While it isn’t worthwhile to add affiliate links to all your old posts, it can be savvy to incorporate affiliate marketing in a handful of the most successful posts.
Stay Engaged With Readers and Followers
Participating in an affiliate program doesn’t mean that engagement isn’t still important. In fact, it can be more important than ever. If a reader buys a single item through your affiliate link, you might make a few cents or a few dollars, depending on the product. That’s great, but it could be better. Ideally, you would turn that one-time reader into a regular reader. That way, they will continue to see your links and continue to make purchases through them. To boost engagement, make sure to allow comments. Then, respond to those comments in a timely fashion. If appropriate, comment on similar blogs as well. All of this encourages your audience to connect to you and maintain a relationship for the long term.
Customize Your Disclaimer
According to the Federal Trade Commission, anyone who reviews a product favorably in exchange for profit needs to make that abundantly clear. However, there is not set phrasing that needs to be used. The key is to ensure that any readers understand that you’ll make a commission if someone clicks a link and buys a product. As a way to show that you’re a real person working behind this content, you can choose to personalize your disclaimer. You might thank someone for clicking a link as a way to support your family. Or, you could state that people who use your affiliate code help defray the costs of running a review blog. Making the disclaimer personal helps people understand the affiliate nature of the content and still encourages them to complete the purchase.
Try Comparison or Reviews to Boost Traffic and Sales
There are many, many ways to include affiliate links and codes into content. Many bloggers work them into ordinary content, and others post pictures of the items along with links. If you’re struggling to include links, a great option is to a write review article or comparison piece.
If you are in an affiliate program for a particular protein bar, for example, you might do a written review of the product. You can talk about how you enjoy it and why the nutritional facts match up with your regular diet. You could also compare it to another protein bar and show why your product is superior. These types of posts tend to do well and are a natural place to include an affiliate link or code.