A common question in my new blogger groups and mom blog groups is how they should focus on setting up their monetization. Some of them have already done their first blog for fun and figured out it was never going to earn.
They come back and make it clear they mean business this time! They ask for all sorts of tips on what to do and they don’t like the answer. The first few weeks or month of a blog should be about content. Your content is everything.
You shouldn’t even bother with monetizing that much until you get the blog beefed up a little. They don’t like that answer so they will start in again with how they should monetize their blog from day 1.
- What in the world is affiliate marketing and why do I care?
- Why is it the way to go?
- Try to Avoid Bad Promotion
- Truly Passive
- Affiliates seem great, but how does this work in simple terms?
- Decide What to Promote
- Affiliate Networks
- Affiliate Application
- Create Content That Works With Your Affiliate Products
- Disclaimers and No-Follow
- Pretty Affiliate Links
- Grow Your Email List
If you are new and trying to figure out how to get those first few bucks, the ideal way is with affiliate marketing. It will start as a trickle at first since you don’t have traffic.
A lot of the moms in the mom blog or beginner blogging group have a rough idea of how affiliates work. Moms get roped into all sorts of schemes since all they want to do is be able to stay home with their kids and help contribute financially.
Affiliate Marketing: Basics
For those not familiar with affiliate marketing, how about we take a step back.
What in the world is affiliate marketing and why do I care?
Affiliate marketing is where you promote and refer people to products and services that you use and trust. Your audience will go check out the product and decide if it looks good to them or not and will either sign up or pay for the service and you will earn when your referral becomes a sale.
It is probably the best way to monetize a new blog other than creating your own products. The referral is often loaded with some sort of perk too for the people you refer and they might get a discount, free time use of the service, free account bonuses, credits towards a service, etc.
Why is it the way to go?
Again, short of using your ad space to promote your own services or products, affiliate marketing is the easiest to do and make a decent sum of money even with a small audience.
This is partly why every mom blog promotes Bluehost so hard. Bluehost has a very generous affiliate program and they often have conversions. I don’t use Bluehost so I don’t promote it. If I’m going to casually mention a hosting service I mention this hosting company right here for people who want to start a blog.
Now study the link I just made. I casually worked it into the topic matter and instead of spamming the name of it and being annoying, I left it a tiny mystery to be clicked or not clicked by the reader. There are other link etiquette rules for affiliates though I’ll get to them below.
Try to Avoid Bad Promotion
The big challenge as a blogger is getting that first click. I don’t expect to make money off that linking above, it is good for the demonstration of how to use your links.
Something stood out to me during my 7000 or more hours of blogging self-study, bloggers were pretty much the worst sources of information on how to blog at times.
I’d go and look and they would be promoting this $200 plugin with service I obviously can’t afford. I poke around for a long time and I find a free alternative only mentioned in whispers on page 30 of Google.
This free alternative might not be the best thing possible, but it does the job I need it for.
This phenomenon also occurred when I was hunting for the best rewards credit cards. The best card I found was something I spent a long time digging for as it isn’t a commonly promoted card. Though that is another story for another blog post.
The other advantage here is affiliates are easy to work into content and once added you have a truly passive income stream that starts building. When posts are planned out well with evergreen content you might have a link that keeps bringing in sales for 2-5 years or so.
You don’t have to spend time on making your own product and you don’t have to worry about customer support or hassles.
Anyone who has had an Etsy or eBay store knows what I’m talking about. You go into it thinking you are just going to sell things and it turns into a nightmare at times.
Not with affiliate marketing. You put your affiliate link and you relax, your main concern is making sure the recommended product is quality and works as advertised.
With an affiliate, you can start having earning potential from day 1. New bloggers often don’t have new products of their own to sell so affiliates help solve this problem.
The bigger issue is building trust and getting your audience to find your offerings attractive. This is also why I usually tell people to focus on their content first.
Maybe have a goal to work in a couple of links a week and otherwise prioritize time on building quality content.
Then the next focus should be fleshing out the Pinterest plan.
Affiliates seem great, but how does this work in simple terms?
The idea is pretty basic. You start off a blog post and you talk about a product that you like that either brings you joy or fixes a problem. Say you have a beauty blog and you casually mention you went out on the town and wore a specific lipstick and then link to the lipstick.
Someone in your audience follow through with your link and decides they like your lipstick suggestion so they buy a couple.
Since they used your UNIQUE affiliate link to get them on the sale site, you get credit for the sale and some percentage of the transaction goes to you as long as they buy within a certain time window. For some, that window is 24 hours and for others, it can be some specific amount of days.
When to Start Affiliate Marketing
You can start affiliate marketing anytime it pleases you to do so. It is never too early to start so long as the affiliate program doesn’t require you to have some big and established site.
If you have ignored affiliate marketing and have a decent bit of traffic, then it is the perfect time to start! The advantage of adding links at that point is that you should already have a basic amount of trust with your readers.
New bloggers shouldn’t expect lots of money right away. You haven’t built up credibility with your readers which you do by increasing site quality, providing value, and delivering value-rich content.
Though you should still have links up whenever you can prioritize time for that. You never know when someone will find your offering attractive and click to sale off your site.
You may have a fan from day 1 and you may end up with a fan who requires about 50 posts to decide they like what you are about. Integrity takes a while to establish.
The primary focus should be growth of your blog. Think of it like you are a fisherman and you want to catch a lot of fish. If you have a tiny net, will you catch a lot of fish every week?
No, not until you get a bigger net.
How to Be an Effective Affiliate Marketer
You created your blog and signed up for some affiliate programs. You then create content day to day and figure out how to work in your affiliate products casually. You create links to your products. You promote yourself. Then you get conversions. The only sidesteps here is an active promotion and being sure you have disclosures everywhere.
Decide What to Promote
Many people start a blog with no plan or direction and then a year later they want to monetize it. It helps if you start your blog with the intent of having it bring in income.
Just about every niche has some sort of affiliate product. The hard part is isolating down your niche and figuring out which products will work with your audience.
If you blog about cat care you probably don’t want to try to promote cooking tools and books.
If you blog about drones and have a lot of affiliate links to drone related proucts, you will probably do well. Drones also open the doors to drone photography or software. If you find a good affiliate for each thing you can make quite a bit per sale.
You can find a lot of products to promote on affiliate network sites. ShareASale is usually one of the first affiliate networks bloggers apply to. Some go right to Amazon. Depending on your traffic you may want to wait a bit on Amazon as they expect 3 sales in a certain number of days. There is also Awin or a place like Cj affiliate.
Those sites have a lot of quality merchants with products you can push. If you have a specific company in mind it might have its own affiliate program so you should search the company for information about it or do a Google search.
You also don’t need to sign up for all the sites or promote a lot of things right away. You can start small and add more stuff gradually as you work out what your site is about.
Don’t promote bad products.
Most of the time you will have to apply to an affiliate program to become an affiliate. The process is usually simple though some affiliates are more difficult to get approved for. The process can also be a bit different for each one.
Usually, after approval, you have access to their library of graphics, banners, and links. You can use those to promote the products.
Create Content That Works With Your Affiliate Products
So you have your blog and your affiliate links, now you need to get your links on your blog. The best way to use your links is to make content.
Create Content in Your Blog
If you are a beauty blogger, for example, a great way to work in a product would be to review a product you bought and casually drop your affiliate link for it. Explain why someone would want it, why you would buy it again, any flaws, and any properties it has that they can expect.
Basically, you have to demonstrate value. Why do they want to buy it?
For this page I’ve added a Master List to my page that contains all of my blogging resources. Some of the listings are affiliates and some are just free tools that are awesome and worth looking at.
On this site, I will blog about productive and successful blogging so all of my affiliate selections are related and useful to new or old bloggers.
The goal is to have my own list of tools and resources in an easy to find place for both myself and for anyone who tunes into this page. It is convenient for everyone involved.
Legalities and Best Practices
As with all things money, there are laws. You need to comply with the law or your life will get harder.
Disclaimers and No-Follow
The law states you have to let people know when you are using affiliate links. You do this by adding a disclaimer line warning that the post may contain affiliate links and usually, people put something in their disclosure about it. You would add something like
“Some of the links on this blog are affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you.”
Some people also go a step further and distinguish their affiliates from their regular links by stating they are affiliates.
You are required to set all affiliate links as “no-follow” links. A no-follow just keeps the search engines working correctly and it keeps SEO good.
Pretty Affiliate Links
Usually your affiliate links are long and really ugly to look at. Most people get some form of affiliate plugin to manage their affiliates.
Something like ThirstyAffiliates works and helps keep your links from ending up broken.
In order for your affiliate activity to become profitable your site needs traffic. Aside from Google traffic and raw SEO, you can leverage Pinterest.
Proper Pinterest use is a skill.
Grow Your Email List
Your email list is very crucial to your repeat fans and blog traffic. My other blogs all have established email lists of varying numbers and the best advice is to get working on it from day 1. You need them.
The Wrap Up
A lot of us start blogs just for the joy of writing and expression. Later we become aware that an activity we are doing is a great way to earn passive income. Affiliate marketing is probably the best method of all for someone just starting.
You go to sleep one night then you wake up to a couple of sales and a few hundred starts rolling in. Life gets pretty good after that. You have more time to write valuable stuff to your audience and stuff just keeps going up.