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When I started blogging, I did a ton of research because I naturally had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was safe to say that there were a ton of posts regarding monetizing your blog, yet I had no idea how to make that a reality. If you feel like you’re in the same boat, I have good news for you. This post is going to take you through the ins and outs and explain 5 easy ways get started with affiliate marketing.
DISCLOSURE: affiliate links are used on this page. I only recommend products and services I absolutely use and love! You can read my full disclosure here. If you decide to make a purchase through my links, I make a commission (at no additional cost to you) which goes to supporting my blogging dreams. which I can use to help support yours and many others! Thank you for all the love and support!
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
First and foremost, what is affiliate marketing? What affiliate marketing looks like online is essentially bringing traffic to a website (could be a business, a seller, another blogger), and said business/seller/blogger rewarding you for bringing traffic to them. This can look like pays per click (you get paid each time someone clicks on a link) or you can receive a portion of the sale if said visitor makes a purchase.
Keep in mind, affiliate marketing is not the only way to monetize your blog (there’s also ads, sponsored posts, creating your own products/services etc.) however it is what we’re focusing on right here.
When Should I Start Affiliate Marketing?
There is no right or wrong answer here. Each blogger’s experience with affiliate marketing will depend on their niche, following, page views etc. Essentially, the best time to start affiliate marketing is once you’ve built a trusting audience who loves your content, appreciates what you have to say, and would honestly trust your opinion on a product or service.
I personally started 5 months after I started blogging. Others have started sooner, others have started later. Whenever you feel comfortable introducing affiliate marketing into your blog is when you should be introducing it. Research suggests waiting until roughly 2-3k page views per month, but again, it’s going to be different for each and every blogger.
5 Easy Ways to Get Started With Affiliate Marketing
Below are 5 easy tips you can implement into your affiliate marketing strategy. Taking the leap and starting affiliate marketing can be scary, but it’s OK! Do your research, check out these tips and be confident in what you’re trying to introduce to your followers.
Your disclosure statement and page are also super important to have. Disclosing affiliate links is part of FTC requirements, and also let your readers know what they can expect from your post (some people want nothing to do with affiliate links and will leave a post. This is totally okay and your readers should have the right to know!)
2. Be Honest With Yourself and Your Readers
When starting with monetizing and affiliate marketing, it can be tempting to jump at the first few offers that come your way (this goes beyond affiliate marketing and applies to sponsored posts, collaborations, partnerships and gifted product). What I’m advising you is to stay true to yourself, your niche and your readers, and here’s why.
What I see more often than not is people who are so focused on making money that they take any and all opportunities that come their way. While this could very well be a way to make great money, you have to assess your audience and your niche. If you’re a fashion blogger, is your audience going to want to see an ad for household cleaner? If you’re a food blogger, is your audience really going to want to see a makeup ad?
While this isn’t to say turn down a ton of opportunities, this is a checkpoint to make sure your affiliate marketing intentions + intentions as a blogger are in check with your aim, values and plan. Are you sharing this product because you truly love it and want your readers to know about it? Or are you throwing in links left right and centre hoping to snag a sale somewhere?
Remember, being genuine, true to yourself and honest with your readers will always trump trying to sell anything and everything just because you can.
3. Affiliate Opportunities are Right at Your Finger Tips!
When starting out, you wonder how you would even go about affiliate marketing, let alone how you would begin the process of applying to programs! I’m here to tell you not to fret, that there are actually many opportunities right at your fingertips.
It’s important to note that to have complete control over monetizing your blog, you must be self-hosted. Most free platforms (such as WordPress) will not allow you to add affiliate links to your page (you must check out the rules and regulations as per each blogging platform, however the general rule of thumb is you cannot monetize without being self-hosted).
When signing up and purchasing a hosting plan with your host (I use SiteGround!) you actually have an opportunity to become an affiliate for your host (this means, if someone clicks your link and purchases a hosting plan, you make a commission off of said purchase!). This is great because if you love your host like I do, you have a chance to share this with your readers, in addition to having an affiliate marketing opportunity right from the start!
In addition to having an excellent affiliate program, SiteGround has excellent 24/7 live chat service and superb customer support. They start as low as $3.95/month (however it becomes cheaper the longer you purchase for). Your first opportunity to become an affiliate starts the day you go self-hosted!
Products You’ve Bought and Loved
Did you know that certain products you purchase give you an opportunity to become an affiliate, simply because you’ve purchased from them? This is an opportunity to not only share products you truly love with your readers, but also get your foot in the door of affiliate marketing! Here are some examples of products I’ve purchased, loved and have now become an affiliate of:
Iubenda: Privacy Policies are a must for any blog and they make theirs simple by embedding an updatable link!
The Content Planner: Kat Gaskin hit the nail on the head with the complete planner for content creators like myself! Obsessed with this planner and all that it helps me achieve (plus she has a superb affiliate program to boot!)
Courses You’ve Purchased
At some point in their career, bloggers often turn to courses to show you how they did what they did! Good news is, a lot of them offer affiliate programs for those who have taken their course!
For example, I’m an affiliate of EllDuclos’s Pinterest E-Course (the number one course for growing your blog traffic via your Pinterest Strategy). I took her course, loved it (and the 3k monthly traffic increase just a few months after implementing it!) and now have made my money back from the course, and then some.
4. Applying to Affiliate Programs
My first ever affiliate sale was from Ell’s Pinterest course and I was ecstatic. That was the catalyst to push me to apply for other affiliate programs and get out there. It can be so intimidating at first, but you don’t need to have a massive following to be accepted to affiliate programs. Again, 2-3k viewers per month seems to be a minimum requirement, but don’t hesitate to try whenever you’re ready!
Creative Market: I purchased my theme from Creative Market (and of course, adore it) and then decided to be bold enough to become an affiliate! You can apply through them by clicking the partner tab at the bottom of their site! Creative Market is a great place to become an affiliate especially if you blog about setting up a blog, blogging help or tips!
Powered by Creative Market
3rd Party Sites
More often than not, you can apply to a 3rd party site which allows you to apply for affiliate opportunities within said site. Listed below are some of the sites I was accepted to as a new blogger without hesitation!
Flex Offers: I mostly use Flex Offers for clothing and makeup links (the variety of make-up links is seriously incredible and would be a great asset to beauty bloggers!), but there are a wide variety of other categories for affiliate links!
ShopStyle Collective: a must for any fashion blogger! Make commission off of clothing you advertise on your blog or roundups (ex. spring shoe must haves)
CJ Affiliate: More difficult to get accepted to, but CJ is another great affiliate site!
Amazon Affiliates: The recommendation for Amazon is that you get your affiliate marketing strategy underway before applying to Amazon. Amazon Affiliates requires you to obtain 1 sale within 180 days of beginning your affiliate journey with Amazon! Keep this in your back pocket for when your affiliate market strategy game is on point!
5. Proper Format For Affiliate Links
Above, we talked about properly disclosing links (essentially, when in doubt, disclosing!), but there’s one more thing you should be adding to your affiliate links. When adding an affiliate link to your blog post, copy and paste your affiliate link, as well as rel=”nofollow”.
Why You Should Be Doing This
Why are you adding rel=”nofollow”? the Cole’s Notes version of that answer is simple. One of the ways you can get traffic to your blog is through SEO (search engine optimization). What this means is you are setting up your blog posts to be picked up on search engines for traffic (ie. someone types into google “How to Take Care of a Pet Otter” and boom, your handy dandy “Ultimate Care Guide for Pet Otters” pops up number one!).
Some tips to maximizing SEO include using the Yoast SEO plug-in for WordPress, adding alt descriptions to your images and adding outside links to your posts. By adding an outside link to your post (for example, www.google.ca), you boost your rank on search engines. However, if you have only affiliate links throughout your pages, search engines start to think of your content as spam. So, by adding rel=”nofollow” to the end of your affiliate links, you break that connection from your site and the other site, and won’t be marked as spam by search engines.
How You Can Easily do This
I know, it’s a lot to take in, but that’s the Cole’s Note’s version. Note I’m no SEO expert, there are plenty of posts out there that in depth explain SEO, I’m just trying to save your butt and boost your SEO when it comes to affiliate links! You can manually enter rel=”nofollow” after each link, or download a WordPress plug-in. I personally recommend manually entering it as I’ve had a lot of problems with plug-ins (I haven’t had one work yet). Pro-Tip: make sure rel=”nofollow” is spelled correctly each time you put it in (I’ve also made the mistake where it was spelled incorrectly and that sent my links going haywire!). Peep below for an example of how I input rel=”nofollow” on my affiliate links.
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This was by no means a complete guide to affiliate marketing. This is more to help those new to affiliate marketing understand the ins and outs of the start of affiliate marketing, how to get started and set up and what programs are great for beginners.
Remember that affiliate marketing can be a great way to monetize your blog, but it isn’t the be all end all way. Also remember to be honest with yourself, your audience, and disclose any and all affiliate links. Avoid being spammy (not all posts have to have affiliate links), be upfront and truthful with your audience (do you really love the product or service?) and don’t be discouraged when you’re just starting!