Blogging Tips

The Ultimate Affiliate Marketing Guide for Bloggers

When I started blogging again earlier this year, I knew I wanted to make money through affiliate marketing. The only problem was, I knew nothing.

And I know there are a lot of other bloggers out there in the same boat.

Like, maybe you’ve thrown a whole bunch of affiliate links on your site but haven’t made any sales? Or, you’ve signed up for a few programs but don’t know what to write.

Heck, maybe you’re just too scared to start!

Whatever your situation, I get it.

Affiliate marketing can seem confusing. But trust me, it doesn’t have to be.

I went from knowing nothing about affiliate marketing, to making over $3,400 of affiliate income in my first six months of blogging.

And I’m not going to sugar coat things, it wasn’t easy. It involved doing a lot of research and testing out different strategies. But lucky for you, I’ve already done the leg work. And I’ve combined all of my affiliate marketing knowledge into one handy-dandy guide.

Sit back, relax and scroll on down to get your affiliate marketing learn on! And don’t forget to sign up for access to my exclusive content library, where you will find a free affiliate tracking sheet!

AFFILIATE MARKETING GUIDE FOR BLOGGERS

Trying to make money blogging? Check out this affiliate marketing guide for bloggers by bloggers. It also includes a free affiliate program tracking sheet. #bloggingtips #affiliatemarketing #makemoneyblogging

This post contains affiliate links, to find out more information, please read my disclaimer. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me.


What is affiliate marketing?

Let’s start with the basic fundamentals.

For bloggers, affiliate marketing basically means that you are promoting products and services for another company. Normally, you’ll receive an affiliate link from said company. And, if anyone purchases a product or service through your link, you receive a commission. The amount of the commission varies depending on the company.

Still with me? Here’s an example:

You’re a travel blogger who is writing a post about things to do in Paris and you want to include a link to your favourite hotel. You find and sign up to their affiliate program online (more on this later) and get your personalized link. You add the link to your blog post, get a couple clicks and OMG – someone just booked a stay at the hotel.

As a thank you for referring someone to the hotel, they send you a 10% commission on the stay. So, if the stay cost $100 for one night, you just earned yourself $10!

What are the benefits of affiliate marketing? 

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself: why would I want to make a measly $10?

Because that’s exactly what I thought too.

But, the key to affiliate marketing is that you want to do the work once (apply for the program, include your link etc.) and get that commission payout again and again.

And to further convince of just how awesome affiliate marketing is for bloggers, here are some more benefits:

  • Easier than creating a product. If you’ve done any research into the world of blog monetization, then you’ve probably seen just how profitable selling your own products and services can be. But, they’re also a lot of work. Affiliate marketing on the other hand, doesn’t take as much time or effort on your behalf.
  • Perfect for beginner bloggers. Not only will affiliate marketing help you become more comfortable selling products online, but it will also help you establish your blog as a helpful resource. And your audience will become accustomed to buying things off you from the very start.
  • All of it adds up. One of the tricks to affiliate marketing is not to put all of your eggs in one basket. Become a part of multiple affiliate programs to really bulk up your commissions. It might not seem like you’re making a lot of money when it’s only $10 here and there, but those small commissions add up! Just take a look at some of my past income reports as an example.
  • Passive income at it’s finest. It does take some effort to apply for programs and create content where you can promote your affiliate links. There’s no denying that. But once that affiliate link is up on your blog, most of your work is done. You have the potential to rake in those commission earning even while you’re asleep!

How to Set Up Your Blog for Affiliate Marketing

I hate to break it to you, but you’re not going to make ANY money with affiliate marketing if you just slap some links up on your site. #sorrynotsorry

If you want to make money with your blog, you need to treat it like an actual business.

In fact, most affiliate programs will want to see that you are committed to your blog before accepting you into any programs. Here are some things you can do to ensure your blog is set up for affiliate links:

  1. Create a good foundation. Ensure that you are self-hosted (I always recommend using Siteground) and using your own custom domain name. For more information on this, check out my tutorial on how to start a profitable blog from scratch.
  2. Come up with a traffic & promotion strategy. People need to actually find your blog in order to buy from you! Find out where your audience hangs out and join them! I personally like to use Twitter, Facebook groups and Pinterest group boards. Want to know which groups are the best ones? Make sure you join my exclusive content library to access my social media master lists!
  3. Write helpful content. You won’t make sales or grow a following by writing sales pitch after sales pitch! Write evergreen content (more on this in a minute) that provides your writers with valuable information. Then, direct them to the resources they need – via your affiliate links!
  4. Include a disclaimer. Keep things legal, people! The FTC requires you to inform your readers if you are being compensated for anything they click on. So, make sure you include a short disclaimer BEFORE any affiliate links in your blog posts. Check out this article How to Write a Blog Disclaimer to learn more.

Sign up below to get instant access to my exclusive content library, including this affiliate program tracking sheet & so much more!


How to Attract the Right Audience

If want to make money blogging, it is essential that your blog stands out from the crowd.

After all, there over 2 million blog posts published every single day!

So, use your content as an opportunity to attract your audience and leave them with a lasting impression. There are a few ways you can achieve this:

  1. Speak their language. We naturally feel more connected to people who are similar to us. So, write to your audience the way you would talk to them in real life.
  2. Focus on their needs. I hate to break it to you, but people don’t want to hear all about you and your life. They want to know how you and your blog can help solve a problem they have. Use your content as a way to show readers how you can make their lives easier.
  3. Make it better than the competition. If your reader is in the market to buy a particular product or service, there’s a good chance that they are reading a lot of similar content to yours. So, if you want your content to stand out from the rest, you need to make it better and more engaging. Add more research and personal experiences into your content.

By combining these three elements, you are going to establish yourself as an invaluable resource and increase your conversion rate. And that is going to put you way ahead of the game.

How to Find Affiliate Programs

For some bloggers, the hardest part about getting started with affiliate marketing is actually finding the right programs. You know, the ones that are related to your niche and profitable. Here are just some of the ways you can get started:

  • Just Google it. Yeah, it’s really that easy. If there’s a company that you love and you think your readers would love too, just Google “company name affiliate program” and see what you find! If no companies are coming to mind, try doing a Google search for any programs related to your niche by searching something along the lines of “best programs for travel bloggers”.
  • Find inspiration from other bloggers. Are there any other bloggers in your niche killing it with their affiliate marketing strategy? Visit their blog and find out what products and services they are promoting. Chances are, you both have a similar audience who are interested in the same things!
  • Join affiliate networks. These are honestly the BEST way to find and apply for affiliate programs. Networks basically act like a middle-man between publishers (like you) and actual programs. You can even sort by niche to find programs that suit your site!

Best Affiliate Networks & Programs

To help you get on the right track, I’ve put together a list of some of the most trusted (and my personal favourite) affiliate networks and programs for bloggers.

  • Shareasale: This is my personal favourite network because of their large selection of blogging-related affiliate programs. I personally use Shareasale to promote companies like Namecheap, Studiopress & Tailwind. Keep in mind that the minimum payout is $50.
  • Awin: Again, there are a ton of great programs on Awin, but I mainly use it to promote sites like Fiverr, Trusted Housesitters and Swagbucks. Keep in mind that there is a $5 deposit required in order to sign up.
  • CJ Affiliate: Although I’m signed up for CJ Affiliate, I don’t actually use it myself as I find the platform to be kind of confusing. Regardless, I think this would be the perfect network for travel bloggers because there are a ton of programs in that niche.
  • Amazon Associates: Due to the huge variety of products on their site, Amazon is the perfect affiliate program for new bloggers! It’s easy to join and you can earn up to 10% commission on all purchases. To learn more, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the eBook called How to Make Money as an Amazon Affiliate by Laura Iancu.

Don’t forget to share your referral codes too! Sites like Ebates and Airbnb allow you to pass on amazing discounts to those who use your link. And of course, they provide you some cool perks in return.

How to Find and Insert Affiliate Links

This is a little hard for me to explain because each affiliate network has a different process for finding or creating affiliate links. Luckily, on most platforms, the process is quite simple.

In Shareasale, Awin and CJ Affiliate, you can create custom links under the “Links” tab in the menu bar. On Amazon, you can find links under “Product Linking” on your affiliate dashboard or use SiteStripe to get links directly from Amazon listing pages.

Whenever you’re promoting a product or service to your readers, I highly suggest linking them directly to the product page rather than including a general affiliate link to the company homepage. This makes it easier for your readers to find what they’re looking for and in turn, will increase your conversion rates.

A few other tips to help increase your conversions:

  • Make your links stand out. Use a bright colour that makes your link stand out amongst a body of text. You can also bold or underline the next to make it more noticeable.
  • Cloak your links. Affiliate links are normally quite long and confusing. Use a free plugin like Pretty Link to cloak your affiliate links, making them shorter and well, prettier. This will help you remember your link to share with others and will help improve click-through rates.

Where to Use Affiliate Links

There are several different places for you to actually use and promote your affiliate links. Of course, blog posts are the most obvious. But there are certain types of blog posts that work really well for affiliate marketing. Here are some examples:

  • Lists or roundups. Think gift guides, packing lists and “best of” posts. These are super easy to create and can be written on almost any topic of your choosing.
  • Reviews. If you personally own or have used the product you’re promoting, write an in-depth review of it! Include lots of pictures or even a video.
  • Your most popular posts. Revisit your most popular posts from the last few months and add any relevant affiliate links that you have.

If you really want to get serious about affiliate marketing, use your links in more places than just your blog posts. Like, email newsletters for example. This can be a great way to share your favourite products and services with your readers.

Of course, you can use your links on social media! Each platform works a little differently, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Facebook: Create paid ads to promote any special offers.
  • Twitter: Share referral codes for services you love using like Airbnb or Ebates.
  • Instagram: Add links to any products or clothing items that are featured in your photos.
  • Pinterest: Create pins that link directly to affiliate links!

Affiliate Marketing Guide for Bloggers: Q&A

Before writing this guide, I asked the members of my Facebook group what their biggest struggles are when it comes to affiliate marketing. I’ll do my best to answer their questions below.

Stefan asked: How can I improve my conversions? 

There isn’t really one magic answer for this. But definitely start by promoting products and services that your audience actually need. Then, write helpful content that shows them why they need it and how they can use it. Also, make sure you are linking your readers directly to the product you’re promoting and not just the company website.

Jodi asked: How can I entice people to click and buy through my link right away?

You need to attract the right type of customer – someone who is in the buying stage. Unfortunately, this is more difficult to accomplish on social media. My suggestion is to write “review” posts with low-competition keywords. My favourite tool for this is KW Finder, which offers you 5 free searches per day.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to answer you there! Thanks for reading!


Sign up below to get instant access to my exclusive content library, including this affiliate program tracking sheet & so much more!

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16 Comments

  • Tegan

    I literally just devoured your whole post, Maya! I’m still pretty new to the affiliate marketing game – so this helped a lot! 🙂

    December 10, 2017 at 21:07 Reply
    • Maya

      I’m SO glad to hear that Tegan! If you ever have any questions, let me know! 🙂

      December 11, 2017 at 14:22 Reply
  • Catherine

    Great post! I’m slowly getting my head around affiliate marketing, and your post gives fantastic tips. I agree that CJ Affiliate is hard to use, especially in comparison to Shareasale.

    December 11, 2017 at 16:04 Reply
  • Krystin

    These are great tips, affiliate marketing seems so hard but you’ve made it seem so much easier!

    December 11, 2017 at 16:05 Reply
  • Sunaina

    Good post.
    Keep sharing with us.

    December 12, 2017 at 13:11 Reply
  • Jodi

    I know I’ve said it before Maya, and I’ll say it again! YOU are amazing! Thanks for all the great tips and the suggestions of WHERE to go for affiliates. This was one amazing post with tons of helpful information and thanks for the shoutout, too! 😉 Now, come to Texas already!

    December 12, 2017 at 19:47 Reply
    • Maya

      Thanks Jodi for always being so supportive! 🙂

      It seems like you have a pretty good handle on affiliate marketing so far! I even used your blog as an example of GREAT affiliate marketing in yesterday’s live video! 😉

      December 12, 2017 at 20:10 Reply
      • Jodi

        No way! So sad I missed it! What time do you do the lives and how long are they up for? And thank you again ?

        December 13, 2017 at 03:45 Reply
        • Maya

          No worries girl! You can catch the replay, it’s pinned to the top of the group!

          December 13, 2017 at 16:41 Reply
  • siful moni

    I have blogging since years. My first blog failed due to several wrong strategy and started new one. I have also posted a guide on affiliate marketing. I agree with you that affiliate marketing is the best option to make money by blogging.

    December 14, 2017 at 20:11 Reply
  • Gigi

    Great Post! Thorough information and great examples.

    December 15, 2017 at 04:55 Reply
  • Breanne

    This is a great introductory post! I’m still a ways from affiliate marketing, but this really helped get my feet wet.

    January 21, 2018 at 17:22 Reply
  • Peter Nyiri

    Hey Maya, Great post!
    I also just realized that I need to make my affiliate links stand out more.
    Making them a different color is actually a great idea. I was also thinking about adding them to pictures, as I need to make my posts visually pleasing anyways.

    January 21, 2018 at 18:36 Reply
  • Caylen

    Thank you for this post! SO needed and so helpful!

    January 21, 2018 at 21:54 Reply
  • sarah

    I learned a lot from this post. I ‘ll try some of the affiliate programs you mentioned. Thank you.

    January 22, 2018 at 14:33 Reply
  • Samantha Miller

    I love how in depth this post is! Can’t wait to get started using tracking sheet 🙂

    January 22, 2018 at 15:08 Reply
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