Affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize your blog or social media by sharing things you love and making a commission on sales. Learn how to get started.
Once you start a blog you likely want to find ways to make money, after all, there are costs associated with blogging and we don’t want our blogs to be money pits.
You want to have multiple income streams for your blog and one you can start right away is affiliate marketing. You can even do affiliate marketing without a blog just using social media.
I’m guessing if you are reading this you already know what affiliate marketing is but in case you don’t or are just a bit confused I will give a brief overview.
Affiliate marketing is where you promote someone’s products or services for a commission of the sales. You simply share special links with your readers and when they use those links you earn a commission. It’s a great passive income source.
Many links included in this post are affiliate links. They are for products or services I’d recommend anyway so now that I’m using affiliate links I can also earn a bit of money while helping my readers.
I’m guessing this all sounds great but you are likely wondering how on earth do you get started? Where do you find the programs? How do you follow the rules? And will your readers still trust you if you are selling things to them? These are all valid questions that I will try to answer.
How to Get Started With Affiliate Marketing
Where Do You Find Affiliate Programs?
There are so many programs out there, I’m actually a bit surprised when I find a brand that doesn’t have an affiliate program. It seems like most have them these days.
These are four of my favorite affiliate programs for beginner blogs. They tend to take small bloggers and are easy programs to use.
If you follow many blogs you’ve likely heard of Ultimate Bundles. It seems like every blog promotes at least some of their bundles, it can be a bit overwhelming but there is a good reason.
Not only are the bundles quality so you can feel good promoting them but they also pay a 40% commission rate so you can make a lot of money promoting their products.
A big reason I suggest joining Ultimate Bundles is that they have so many great learning materials and the things you learn will work for all affiliate marketing, not just their bundles.
I think you can also still sell the bundles if you do it in a smart way, even if there are already so many people selling. Be picky which you sell and how you sell them and it can still work really well.
Additional Resource: Make Money Blogging with Ultimate Bundles
ShareASale is a site you join to sign up for many different affiliate programs. There are so many brands here including Erin Condren, Etsy, Cricut, Minted and so many more.
While you do have to apply for each program they are all in one place and easy to use. Plus you get just one check instead of several much smaller checks. This is one of the first affiliate sites I started using and I still love it.
I love this affiliate program because it saves my readers money while earning me a commission. If you haven’t heard of Rakuten (formerly Ebates) before it’s a cashback app that is free to use and helps you earn cashback from some of your favorite stores.
When a reader signs up using your link they get bonus cashback after they use the site to make a purchase. You then get $25 for them signing up. This can add up really fast and works for a lot of niches because they offer cashback at so many different stores.
Who doesn’t use Amazon? This program is great because of how widely it’s used so basically every niche can use it. When someone uses one of your links it’s not just the products you link to that will earn you money but anything they buy while the cookie is active.
The percentage they give you is low but since so many people order from Amazon you can still earn a lot of money using the links. Plus you can earn a bit more if you use their bounty programs which are for free trials for things like Amazon Prime. Those pay pretty well and people love free trials.
Be sure to read the rules carefully because Amazon is a bit pickier about how you use their links than some programs. It’s worth it though.
More Affiliate Programs
These are truly just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more out there. I’m an affiliate for more brands than I could count. This is because I’ve been blogging for so long and have four different blogs.
If you want even more to join check out 50+ Best Affiliate Programs to Make Money With. It is a really good detailed list.
What Are The Rules?
Each affiliate program has different rules, most are pretty basic though. Amazon is one that is a bit more tricky but there are so many great resources out there to help and they have a lot of information on their website. Just make sure you read over the rules when you join a program and make a note if they have a rule you need to remember.
There are some general things you need to do for all affiliate marketing.
- Always disclose that you are using affiliate links. If you look at the top of this page you will see a grey box with my disclosure. You will see it’s before I used any links, in reading text, not an image, not a pop-up, and not hidden in any way. Each country has slightly different rules but for the US we follow the rules set by the FTC. They have a great social media guide to help you learn how to properly disclose.
- Use the sponsored link attribute to make sure Google knows it’s an affiliate link. You can read more about how to do this and why on How Google’s Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC Links Impact SEO.
- Don’t forget to disclose in email and social media. This is where I most commonly see bloggers and influencers forget to disclose. The FTC guide will help with this as well but just always remember to do it. The FTC fines are no joke and they do fine bloggers.
Keeping Your Readers Trust
This is something I hear as a reason bloggers don’t want to use affiliate links, they are afraid their readers will no longer trust them if they are selling to them but the truth is if you do it right your readers will love supporting you.
The key is being honest, which as we just talked about is also the law, and also only sharing things you truly support will help make sure you keep your readers’ trust.
One example is a post that has made me thousands of dollars in affiliate revenue, a review of Le Tote clothing rental. I use the service and have now for a couple of years. I truly love it but I also was very honest and talked about some of the cons.
Because I do admit it’s not for everyone, actually use it, and share the things I don’t like people are more likely to trust me as a reliable source for information on the service.
Additional Resource: How to Make Money With Affiliate Marketing
I have seen bloggers make money from affiliate links for products they don’t really like but only when they are very honest and say it wasn’t for them and share why. Readers may decide that it’s still something they want to try and still purchase.
I did this with my Stitch Fix review. Sure there were some things I like, I may try it again at some point but it’s not a service I kept. I give all my feelings, say it’s not for everyone but I do say who I think it’s good for as well. I still get sign-ups on that post because my cons may not be cons for everyone.
As with all things in life if you want to be trusted, be honest. If you are honest your readers will trust you. And in my experience, my readers like to know they are supporting me when they make purchases through my site because they like me and they like my site.
I’ve even had readers email me and ask if I have an affiliate link for a product they are going to buy because they want to give me the commission if I do. I think that’s super sweet and one of the great things about blogging, you meet some wonderful people.
Affiliate Marketing Summary
Are you a skimmer? This was a long post with a lot of information so here is the TL;DR. Be sure to also save this post to go back and read it when you get confused with affiliate marketing.
- There are tons of affiliate programs out there. Some really good ones are Ultimate Bundles, ShareASale, Rakuten/Ebates, and Amazon Associates.
- You MUST disclose when you use affiliate links. If you are in the US be sure you are following FTC guidelines. If you are outside of the US look up the rules in your country before getting started.
- Be sure to follow Google guidelines when it comes to link attributes to tell them you are using affiliate links.
- Be honest with your readers to help keep their trust so they will be happy to continue to support your blog and use your links.
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