Promoting other companies products and services can make you money, and you don’t even have to work for the company. All you need is a blog or a platform with content, and you can promote affiliate links and make money.
Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest ways to make passive income, but the competition is steep today.
Check out my guide on making money with affiliate marketing to set yourself apart from the competition.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a leads program. You earn commissions for sending customers to a brand’s page and making a purchase. In other words, you get paid for selling other people’s products or services.
With minimal effort, brands use affiliate marketers to get their names out to a larger audience. Your job is to generate traffic to the brand’s website by leveraging your existing audience from your blog, blog, or social media channels.
It’s like placing ads on your website or social media pages, but less aggressively. Instead of displaying ads on your website, you embed links into your content and let the content help readers decide why they should click the link.
Most people use affiliate marketing on blogs, but you can also use it on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. Some people even use it in email marketing campaigns to increase sales.
Types of Affiliate Marketing
Like most passive income opportunities, there are many ways to go about affiliate marketing. However, the method you use should be the one that makes the most sense for your niche and audience.
Here are the top ways you can earn money advertising for others.
The brand itself offers in-house affiliate marketing. They run their own software, keeping track of your affiliate earnings. Etsy and Amazon are the most common examples of brands with in-house marketing. First, you work directly with Amazon or Etsy to promote their products. Then, they track your sales and pay you a commission for each sale.
An affiliate network is a third party between the brand/retailer and the affiliate marketer (you). Brands or companies advertise with the third-party network, including the terms and conditions of earning commissions.
Affiliate marketers like yourself can browse the offers on the affiliate marketer’s platform and apply for the programs you think your audience would enjoy. You deal with the affiliate marketer manager throughout the process, not the brand/company you’re promoting.
Once accepted into a program, you can advertise the products and services with the provided links and earn a commission. You’ll receive your check from the affiliate network rather than the brand itself.
Unattached affiliate marketing is the simplest form of earning passive income through marketing efforts. However, content creators using the unattached method don’t have content in the niche they’re advertising. You also don’t have a direct connection with your customers.
Most unattached advertising marketers use pay-per-click advertising on their sites. The key is to get people to click the link and buy something, but your content isn’t created around the product or service.
This is the least focused and targeted form of affiliate marketing and should be used as add-on income, but not the focus.
Related affiliate marketing means you offer links for products related to your niche. You might not have used the product before, but you have a targeted audience that you think would benefit from the advertised products or services.
Most bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers use related affiliate marketing because they have a target audience they interact with and know what they like.
There is a downside to this type of affiliate marketing, though. Because you’ve never tried the products, you’re taking a risk. You’re advertising them to your audience, asking them to buy them without knowing if they are worth it.
Involved affiliate marketing is the safest option because you only promote products or services you’ve tried and know your targeted audience will enjoy too.
Influencers who genuinely use the products and can give honest opinions sell the most because their campaigns are more convincing. You know the pain points of your audience and can address how the products you’re advertising help them.
Involved affiliate marketing is the most organic approach versus gimmicky. You aren’t hoping someone clicks on an ad. Instead, you give your heartfelt opinion and thoughts on the product and help your audience decide if they should try it too.
How Much Can You Make Using Affiliate Marketing?
According to Glassdoor, affiliate marketers make an average of $56,935 annually, potentially earning an even higher salary. But how much you make depends on many factors, including:
- Your Niche: Some niches make more than others. Some top niches are fashion, technology, travel, education, and health/wellness.
- Your Audience Size: The larger the audience you have, the more people you can get your affiliate links in front of, which increases your chance of higher earnings
- Your Content: Higher quality content will bring in a larger audience and more clicks. In addition, the more genuine and authentic your content is, the more sales you’ll make.
On average, 1% of your audience will be an affiliate market conversion. Based on that information, figure out the size of the audience you need to make your desired income based on the commission you can earn on each product.
Of course, the more you diversify your affiliate marketing efforts, the easier it is to reach your goal, but focus on the higher-paying products and how you can sell enough per day to reach your goals.
How to Make Money With Affiliate Marketing
If you’ve decided you’re interested in making money with affiliate marketing, I’ve outlined the steps below to help you start.
Build Your Website
The key to making money with affiliate marketing is providing your audience with quality content. A website is the best way to do this, although some influencers use social media as their platform.
The key is having an SEO-rich website that ranks high in Google to reach your desired audience. Your website isn’t a sales platform only. You should have a good mix of informational and sales content on your website, but heavier on the informative side so you don’t come off as pushy. Aim for a 70/30 mix, with 70% of your content informational and 30% ‘salesy.’
The goal of your website is to make you a thought leader in the industry and the person your target audience turns to when they want to learn more. The sales will come naturally when your audience trusts you.
To keep your website as low maintenance as possible, don’t make the content time-sensitive. In other words, write content that it doesn’t matter whether someone reads it today or six months from now; it will still be relevant. If your content is time-sensitive, it’s up to you to continually update it or risk losing your audience.
Google Targeted Traffic
Building a website is the first step, but then you need visitors to your website, which Google can help. Targeting your audience by using keywords will help drive targeted traffic to your site and increase your chance of making affiliate sales.
Using Google targeted traffic, you know what your audience wants, and you can create content they will find helpful. The key is choosing keywords people use who have the intent to make a purchase. So while your website should be primarily informational, your end goal is for them to make a purchase.
There are two types of keywords you should focus on – commercial and transactional.
Commercial keywords are words people use to find information on specific products. For example, they may look for ‘the best,’ ‘top,’ or specific product names. In addition, they may search for reviews on a specific product or the best of something in a specific category.
For example, someone might search ‘best instant pots’ or ‘instant pot reviews.’ In this case, you know they are interested in instant pots and are likely about to purchase one but are looking for advice on the right one.
Transactional keywords are searches people use when they are ready to buy a product. In this case, they’ll use direct words like ‘buy,’ ‘on sale,’ or ‘discount’ along with the product’s name.
If you can target these keywords throughout your website, you’ll get visitors who intend to purchase something, increasing your chances of making a sale if you provide them with quality content.
Research and Apply for Programs
Depending on your audience, you likely have many affiliate networks and program options. Before joining, do your research, as no two programs are alike.
First, decide what products you want to advertise on your site. Do you want an affiliate network, or would you prefer to go direct with each company?
Decide which works best for you, and then research your opportunities. Most brands have a link for their affiliate program at the bottom of their website. If you prefer to have all your links in one place, research the top affiliate networks to see which works best with your audience.
Don’t hesitate to check their reputations on sites like the Better Business Bureau or Trustpilot to ensure they have a good reputation.
Turn Visitors Into Fans
Once you have the visitors to your website, Google did its job, and now it’s your turn to turn those visitors into fans.
By fans, I mean you want them to look at you as the industry leader. They should view you as the person with all the answers in your niche. For example, if you write fashion blogs, you want visitors to think you have all the answers for the type of fashion you write about. This way, when they have a question about something fashion related, they’ll naturally turn to you.
When your visitors are fans, they are more likely to click links and make purchases based on what you said about them. This can be the case whether you’ve tried the products or not, but you’ll have more luck with vetted products.
Promote What You Have Vetted
When you turn visitors into fans, your fans will want to be just like you. If you use involved affiliate marketing and promote products you use and love, chances are your audience will want to get their hands on the products too.
If you can include video content or host a social media channel showing you using the products, it can help you sell them even more. Videos tell the story even better than written content, but written content can be what brings in the audience initially.
Promote the Products That Sell
If you join an affiliate network, don’t try to sell every product in the network. Instead, only promote the products that sell and fit your target audience.
For example, if you have a fashion blog but post a link about a car part, you aren’t going to make any sales, probably not even one. So instead, you should promote products your audience is likely to be interested in because it relates to your niche but also that sell because they are a popular product.
If you aren’t sure what’s popular, check out your competitors’ blogs and social media pages. Then, again, see what people like and comment on the most, and you’ll quickly have a list of the most popular products that sell.
Promote High-Affiliate Commissions
The easiest way to make money with affiliate marketing is to promote high-affiliate products. For example, if one product pays $1 per sale and another pays $50 per sale, you should work a lot harder promoting the $50 per sale links rather than the $1 per sale links.
You would need 50 sales for every $50 commission product sale, so it’s almost a no-brainer. First, look for the products with the highest commissions, but then sprinkle in lower-commission products periodically unless you have a high net-worth audience.
Ways to Optimize Affiliate Links
Optimizing your affiliate links is the key to earning the most money. Affiliate marketing doesn’t mean throwing links anywhere in your blog and hoping your audience clicks on them. Instead, be strategic about where you place the links and increase your chance of higher earnings.
Contextual links are links within the content you write. So, for example, if you write about a sweater, you’d place the link on the word sweater or its brand name, whatever feels natural.
Contextual linking is not as obvious because you’re not saying, ‘click here and purchase this.’ Instead, you’re talking about the sweater or a feature of it and providing the link within the text. This way, they have the information if anyone wants to see what the sweater is all about. You earn a commission from naturally advertising the product if they make a purchase.
Resource pages can be lists of links you think your audience might find helpful. You can reference the resource pages in your content, showing your readers where they can find more information.
This is a less direct way to promote your affiliate links, as you aren’t linking them directly in your content. Instead, you’re leaving it up to your audience to click over to your resource page and browse the links.
It’s easy to get lost in the world of affiliate links. For example, if you sign up for programs individually, you could quickly lose track of what you have, leaving some links unused and not making you money.
Instead, use a third-party affiliate marketing management platform. The platform keeps the links organized and allows you to track where you’ve used them and how. Many platforms also allow you to view analytics to see how the links are going. This is a great way to see if your efforts are working.
Banners are ads at the top or side of your website or blog. They are more obvious than contextual links, but if you have something you want your readers to see, it can be a good way to promote it.
You typically don’t have to make the ads yourself. The affiliates usually have them made. You just need to add them to your website.
Email campaigns can be just as effective as blogs or social media. Use the same premise, though. Your email campaigns shouldn’t seem “salesy” or pushy. Instead, provide value-added emails that make you a thought leader in the industry. After every few how-to or helpful emails, you can promote a product using contextual links.
Include the link within the content. This even works with how-to or instructional content. You can provide a link naturally to the product you’re talking about or give a few links for options so your readers can decide for themselves what they’d like.
Best Affiliate Marketing Links
Now that I’ve shown you the different ways to use your affiliate links, let’s look at the best types of affiliate links or the best type of content to use to promote them.
Product reviews are popular today. Most people go to the internet before buying something, so a product review can help you make up your audience’s mind, and hopefully, they’ll use your link to buy the product.
Your reviews shouldn’t seem “salesy”. Instead, they should be informative and honest. Let readers know what you thought, how you used the product, what you’d change, and anything else that comes to mind.
Make it feel like you’re having a real-life conversation with your audience, helping them understand what’s good and bad about the product. Don’t be afraid to use a pros/cons section. This makes you seem more honest and legitimate than just wanting the sale.
Roundup posts are ‘best of posts,’ where you discuss various products that could fit into one problem or need.
For example, if you write about fashion and want to write about booties. You can write ‘The Top 10 Booties for this Fall’s Fashion.’ Your post would then include ten links to booties you want to promote.
You can do this with any topic and any number of products. It can be the best three or the best 20 – the sky’s the limit, and it just depends on what you think your audience prefers.
Comparison posts pit two or more products against one another. This is a great way to use the pros/cons section to show your audience what one product does compare to another.
You can include links for all the products or just one if you prefer. The key is to provide your audience with helpful information to help them to decide which products would suit their needs the most.
Additional Tips for Successful Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a competitive industry, as there are 600 million blogs in the world today. Here are even more tips for successful affiliate marketing to set yourself apart.
- Use Coupon Codes – Some companies will provide affiliates with a coupon code for their audience. The code usually includes your blog or personal name and is linked to your affiliate network. If you want your audience to try the product, providing them with a discount code can be a great way to convince them.
- Bookmark Affiliate Analytics to Your Browser And Track Your Clicks and Commissions – To keep up with your affiliate analytics, bookmark your analytics page and check it often. When it’s a bookmark, it takes much less effort to find the page, view the analytics, and make changes. Make it a part of your daily routine to check the analytics to see if you should change things.
- Set Up Alerts to Your Email to Let You Know When a Sale Has Been Made – Getting email alerts can be motivating. Once you know you’ve made a sale, you’ll be more motivated to keep creating more content. When things feel slow, it’s easy to give up on social media or updated blog posts, but you’ll want more as soon as that sale comes in.
- Build a Community and Engage – Interact with your audience. Don’t just write content, accept their sales, and move on with your life. Instead, create an engaging community where you communicate with your audience.You can answer their questions or comments on your blog or connect with them on social media. Make yourself available, and your audience will like you more and visit your content more often than someone that just publishes content but doesn’t interact.
- Follow Google’s Guidelines For Affiliate Marketing – Google is picky, so always follow their rules. Stay up-to-date on the latest changes, and don’t make any mistakes as they penalize hard. The most common rules include the following:
- Don’t over promote
- Don’t lead with affiliate links. Provide content first
- Avoid ‘thin’ content pages just to get the sale
- Use affiliate links naturally and not just to make the sale
- Avoid list posts that only have affiliate links
- Always put a disclaimer that affiliate links are included
- Stay Up to Date on Current Trends – Always know the latest trends and try to jump on them if they fit within your content. Of course, don’t jump on any bandwagons that don’t naturally fit into your content, but when trends do happen that you can use, take advantage of them to get more sales.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you understand affiliate marketing and how it works, here are a few other common questions I get.
What percentage of my content should be affiliate marketing content?
Try keeping your affiliate marketing content at 30% of your total content. The remainder should be helpful content that your audience can use for their information and not feel like you are trying to sell something. Even the affiliate network content should feel natural and not like you are trying to push a sale.
How fast can money be made using affiliate aarketing?
It typically takes 12 to 18 months to build a solid audience with regular income from affiliate marketing. This doesn’t mean you won’t make a little money right away, but overall it takes 30+ days to see the income from your first sale.
Is affiliate marketing passive or active income?
Affiliate marketing is a form of passive income. You do a little work upfront setting up the blog, targeting specific keywords, and getting the audience. Once you do the work upfront, the income continues each time someone clicks on your link, which can be months or years from when you started.
How will you be paid by affiliates?
Most affiliate marketing companies and individual brands pay their affiliate marketers monthly. They track your sales throughout the month and then pay out on the same day. Check with your affiliate marketing program to see how they pay; some pay direct deposit, and others send a monthly check.
Which affiliate marketing network is the best?
There are hundreds of affiliate marketing networks available today. Of course, if you’re going direct, Amazon Associates is the best affiliate marketing program. But if you want an affiliate network, your top options are ClickBank, Commission Junction, and Awin.
How to become an affiliate merchant?
To be an affiliate merchant, you must apply with the affiliate networks, just like if you were the advertiser. Affiliate networks work with specific brands and have specifications for the brands, products, and services they’ll allow.
What are some affiliate marketing examples?
You likely see affiliate marketing examples every time you browse the internet. For example, when you read a blog or watch an influencer on social media, anytime they promote or talk about a product or service, it’s affiliate marketing. If you click on a link within their content and make a purchase, you earn them a commission.
The Bottom Line
There you have it. It’s easy to become an affiliate marketer, especially if you already have a blog with an established audience. Even if you don’t, affiliate marketing can be a great way to make an income. If you have a niche you’re interested in, consider starting a blog or video content channel and start making passive income.