Affiliate marketing is an exceptional method of monetizing your blog. In today’s article, learn affiliate marketing basics: what affiliate marketing is, how it works, and the fundamentals you need to get started.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize your blog. However, it’s too easy to buy into so-called “get-rich-quick” schemes aimed at both bloggers and business owners who don’t know much about affiliate marketing.
Today’s article goes into affiliate marketing basics—what it is, how it works, and how to go about finding an affiliate program so you can monetize your blog scam-free.
Quite simply, affiliate marketing involves promoting a product or service from a merchant and earning a commission for it. You can earn a commission by getting a percentage of the resulting sale, commission per lead (no purchase necessary, just a sign-up with an email address), or a fixed amount for every free trial sign-up.
There are plenty of benefits of affiliate marketing, but there are also a number of drawbacks. Read these carefully so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to pursue affiliate marketing as a monetization tool.
There are three basic players in affiliate marketing: the merchant, the publisher (that’s you!), and the customer.
The merchant or advertiser sells the products or services. Their objective is to maximize leads and/or sales.
The publisher or affiliate promotes the merchants’ products or services to monetize their website traffic.
The customer browses the publisher’s website, sees the merchants’ products or services, and potentially buys them.
Here’s the typical affiliate marketing process if you directly enroll in a merchant’s affiliate program:
Sometimes, another player is involved, namely, the affiliate network.
The affiliate network provides a platform for merchants and publishers to connect.
Here’s the typical affiliate marketing process if an affiliate network is involved:
Now that you know what affiliate marketing is and how it works, we can now go deeper into the process and know how you can start affiliate marketing on your blog.
If you want to be an ethical affiliate marketer (i.e., you want to provide value to your readers and not just sell them anything that pays you a commission), there are lots of ways to go about it.
Whichever approach you take, be aware that it takes time and money to research the best products to promote to your readers. You don’t want to promote products that you know nothing about or haven’t used once.
Here are 3 ways to find products to promote.
Products and services that you already know about and like using are the best ones to promote on your blog. You’ll feel better recommending products that you’ve thoroughly tested and had a good experience with.
Go to their website or blog and find out if they have affiliate programs. Most of the time, their footer would have a link that says “Affiliates,” “Affiliate Program,” or “Become an Affiliate.”
Alternatively, you can do a Google search for “affiliate program” + [product/service name]. If you still can’t pull up anything, email or contact the merchant and ask.
Find out which products and services seem to be promoted frequently on prominent blogs in your niche and check if you like these as well. This will involve time and probably some money investment so you can do your research properly.
Once you’ve thoroughly tested the product or service and decide that it’s indeed valuable to your readers, that’s the time you apply to their affiliate program.
If the product or service is being offered by influencers themselves, email the influencer directly. It helps if you’ve already established a prior relationship with them.
If you don’t have any direct experience with products or services in your niche that could help your readers, you can often find good products on affiliate networks. This would involve a greater investment in time and money as you find a really good product to promote.
You may not have a relationship with the merchant prior to this, so you don’t really have an idea of the quality of their products or services. Plus you want to protect your reputation and credibility. Thus, you do need to invest some time and money when going this route.
Some of the best affiliate networks to find products are:
Our very own Danyon has previously written about how to find affiliate programs in ClickBank specifically, so you might want to check that out for step-by-step instructions.
There are plenty of merchants who offer affiliate programs for their products and services. Similarly, there are plenty of affiliate networks working with numerous merchants offering affiliate programs.
But just because there are plenty to choose from doesn’t mean you should promote just any product with an affiliate program.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself when choosing a product to promote:
Am I already using this product? If not, is this product something that I’m willing to use? Products and services related to your niche that have solved your problems are more likely to entice your readers to become customers.
Will my readers benefit from using this product? If your readers don’t find the product valuable or at least helpful to them in some way, they won’t buy it. That’s all there is to it.
Is the buying process simple? Choose products that don’t have a lengthy or intricate checkout process. The point is to make your readers’ lives easier, not more difficult.
Does the merchant have good customer support? You want to be able to assure your readers that if they have any issues or complaints about the product or service, the merchant would be able to assist them and provide refunds if needed.
Is the commission worth the effort? The first thing one normally thinks about when you think of commissions is how much you’ll get per conversion; the percentage per sale or the fixed amount per lead, for example. But you also need to consider the conversion rate; that is, how often customers who click on your affiliate link actually buy the product.
For example, given a product that gives you $100 commission per sale, if only a single customer buys the product for every 100 customers who click on the affiliate link, then you only get $100 commission.
By contrast, if you have a product that only gives you $10 commission per sale, but 15 customers buy the product for every 100 customers who click on the affiliate link, then you get $150 commission.
The difference might not seem to be very large, but think of the conversion rate as how “sellable” the product is. You’ll have much better chances at success if you select products that customers that actually want to buy.
You can summarize these questions into a single one:
Will this product/service help build a lasting relationship with my audience while providing me decent revenue?
If the answer is YES, go for it.
Whether you plan to sign up as an affiliate directly with a merchant or through an affiliate network, you’ll have to apply and provide information before you’re approved to be a publisher.
Here are the things that merchants or affiliate networks will be looking for:
In turn, you can expect to receive some things from the merchant, the most important of which is the affiliate link.
Affiliate links look something like this:
As you can see, it’s filled with gibberish and can be confusing to your reader. There are now many WordPress plugins that can disguise these links and allow you to display something like this instead:
Take note that you need to add a nofollow attribute to the URL (previously discussed here) so you won’t be penalized by Google.
Some WordPress plugins you can use to make your affiliate link look better are the following:
Here’s a recap of the affiliate marketing basics discussed in this article:
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing involves promoting a product or service from a merchant and earning a commission for it.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Affiliate marketing works one of two ways:
Pros of affiliate marketing
Cons of affiliate marketing
Where To Find Products To Promote
How To Decide Which Affiliate Products To Promote
The affiliate product/service that you promote should help build a lasting relationship with your audience while providing decent revenue.
How To Set Yourself Up As An Affiliate
Hopefully, you’ve learned enough about the basics to start pursuing affiliate marketing. But before you set off on your way to monetize your blog, here are some more reminders.
These 3 values are key to your success as an affiliate marketer.
Honesty. First of all, let people know that you stand to earn a commission when they complete an action or purchase on the merchant’s website. Aside from abiding by the law, you’re also stressing that you’re a transparent person, worthy of trust.
Plus, it implies that you’re willing to stake your reputation for the product, so it must be worth looking into. This may backfire if in case the product your promoting turns out to be a dud or if the merchant lowers the quality, but in case that happens, be ready and willing to withdraw your support.
Usefulness. The product you promote must be something that is useful for your readers, otherwise, this is a pointless endeavor. If your readers don’t find your affiliate product useful, they won’t buy it.
They might not even click your affiliate link. If none of your readers are buying or even interested, you might lose your publisher status and the merchant might not work with you again.
Relevance. You might be transparent about your affiliate offers, and the product you’re promoting may be valuable. But if the product isn’t relevant to your blog topic, it isn’t relevant to your audience and you’ll have trouble getting your audience to click on your affiliate link.
Have you already started affiliate marketing on your blog, or are you still studying? Did this article help you? Do you have any questions? Talk to me in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.