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Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers [Beginners Guide to Start Making Money]

Last updated on August 27, 2020  ∙ by Edwin Contreras12 comments

I may earn a commission for purchases made through links in this post.

Affiliate marketing is how I made my first $100 blogging and was crucial to my success as a blogger (you can read more about my story here).

If you want to learn how about to make money with affiliate marketing, you're in the right place.

In this beginners guide on affiliate marketing for bloggers I'll show you step-by-step how to get started start making money with affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways for bloggers to make money with their blogs.

When done the right way, it will be the best source of passive income your blog can earn, potentially making you money for months and even years to come!

How much do I love affiliate marketing? It puts food on the table for my family, it will pay for my daughter's college education, and it has paid off my house!

It makes me feel kind of like this:

So as you go through this article, I apologize beforehand if I get too giddy about this topic. But it just gets me some kind of way.

But before I get too ahead of myself, let me first define what is affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing for bloggers?

Affiliate marketing is when you earn a commission for recommending a product to your readers.

When your readers make a purchase, you get a cut of the total sale.

The amount you make for each sale depends on the company, but it can be anywhere from 5% all the way up to 75%!

While that number sounds insane, there are affiliate programs out there that pay out insane amounts to bloggers to refer new customers.

That's because bloggers are the ones doing the heavy lifting of connecting readers with products.

Without you, companies just have a shiny product that's collecting dust on the virtual stock shelf.

While it may seem that the hard part is creating a product and making a sales page for it, that's actually the easy part. The hard part is getting an audience to buy your product.

How does affiliate marketing work?

Affiliate marketing works in 5 easy steps:

  • 1. Find a product or service you want to promote
  • 2. Sign up with an affiliate network to get a URL with your unique tracking ID
  • 3. Promote the product or service on your blog
  • 4. Earn a commission when someone makes a purchase
  • 5. Get paid, usually every two weeks

Sales are tracked by a unique URL you receive after signing up. It typically looks something like this:

https://www.affiliateprogramlink.com/?trackingID=YOURCODE12345

When your affiliate link is clicked, a small file called a cookie is stored in the browser of the user's computer. If they complete the transaction, that information is passed to the affiliate program and the sale is credited to you.

Cookies, albeit delicious, have their limitations.

- If a user clicks your link but completes the purchase on another browser (or another device), you get no credit.

- The same applies if your affiliate link is clicked first, and then a week later they click someone else's affiliate link.

- And you also won't get credit if too much time has elapsed between the click and the sale. The cookie-length depends on the 

Affiliate marketing example

On my keto diet blog I promote a bunch of keto-related products, including ebooks like these:

For this particular program, I get a whopping 75% of all commissions. If you don't have the time (or don't want to take the time) to create your own product you can use affiliate marketing and make (almost) the entire profit - without putting in the work of building a product.

To promote these products, I signed up with the affiliate network Clickbank and got my unique affiliate ID. See below:

Some affiliate programs will go as far as creating marketing material to help you promote their products. For example, product images, logos, and even complete email marketing funnels designed to sell their product.

Your only job then becomes to find an audience who is interested in their products.

Affiliate disclosure rules

Since you will be recommending products to your audience, you need to make it clear that there is a relationship between you and the advertiser.

This is called an affiliate disclosure and, per FTC rules, needs to be present before every blog post.

My affiliate disclaimer reads:

I may earn a commission for purchases made through links in this post.

While you might think that this reduces your conversion rate, it actually may do the opposite. By stating your affiliate relationships upfront you're not only following the law but being transparent with your audience, which only strengthens the trust you have with them.

Why blogs are perfect for affiliate marketing

Blogs are made for affiliate marketing. They are a match made in heaven.

While affiliate marketing involves making a sale through a unique URL with your affiliate code, that's just part 1 of the equation.

The other (much harder) part is actually getting someone to buy the product or service.

While you could go around asking (more like begging) strangers to buy a product you're pitching, odds are you're going to come off like those pushy salesmen at the mall!

That's because they too are in the affiliate marketing game, working on commission.

But here's why that won't be you.

Because you have a blog,  you have the ability to build an audience of people who trust you. These are the people who will eat up every word you say and buy what you recommend.

Pros and cons of affiliate marketing for bloggers

Want to try affiliate marketing on your blog? Here are some pros and cons of using affiliate marketing on your blog before you get started.

Pros

  • You can start making money with your blog right away
  • You can learn what sells best with your audience through trial and error
  • You learn not only what to sell, but how to sell
  • You don't have to spend months creating a product of your own
  • If an affiliate product doesn't sell well, simply replace it - and you're DONE
  • No need to worry about chargebacks, refunds, customer service, or inventory

Cons

  • There's a middle-man between the customer's wallet and your bank account
  • You have no control over the sales page or the price
  • You have no control over the rate you are paid

While I ultimately believe creating your own products is the best way to make money blogging, affiliate marketing is a very close second.

I believe the best marketers use affiliate marketing as a testing ground before they create a product of their own.

Imagine if you had spent months creating the perfect product - only to find out nobody wanted to buy it. This has happened to me more times than I'm willing to admit! With affiliate marketing, you eliminate the guess-work.

With affiliate marketing you can test which products sell the best. Then simply create your own version of that best-selling affiliate offer.

How to get started with affiliate marketing

The first step is to sign up with an affiliate marketing program.

The one I recommend starting with is Amazon Associates. The reason being that when you're a new blogger, you don't yet have the trust built up to recommend products. It's better to borrow the trust that Amazon has and promote products that way.

Here's your 3-step action plan for getting started with Amazon Associates:

  • Sign up with Amazon Associates here
  • Log in and search for a product to promote
  • Copy the affiliate link and add it to a blog post

Best affiliate marketing programs for bloggers

The best affiliate programs depend on your niche.

For the blogging and marketing niches, the affiliate programs I recommend are Bluehost for hosting and ConvertKit for email marketing.

For your niche, head over to Google and search for affiliate programs in your niche.

Another way of finding the best affiliate programs in your blog's niche is to look at the best blogs in your niche to see what they are promoting.

Those bloggers have already done the hard work of testing which products convert best, so it would be wise to learn from them.

Affiliate marketing networks

The benefit of signing up with an affiliate network is that you can promote multiple companies and the payouts are combined into one payment. This can make it easier to reach the minimum payment.

Here are the best affiliate networks to join:

And here are some other affiliate networks that focus more on selling physical products.

Cloaking your affiliate links

For this next part, you're going to use an affiliate link cloaking plugin like ThirstyAffiliates.

Thirsty Affiliates plugin

Here are 3 reasons why you need this plugin if you're going to do affiliate marketing:

1. Affiliate tracking theft

There's a couple of problems you're bound to run in to with affiliate marketing. One is something called cookie stuffing or cookie hijacking. This is when nefarious marketers use malware on infected browsers to switch affiliate codes to their own ID's.

2. More attractive URLs

Another advantage is that your affiliate links look more attractive. For example, it will convert URLs like this one:

https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=992347&u=216448&m=50947

into something like this:

https://www.dosixfigures.com/go/tailwind/

3. Click reporting

Lastly, you're going to want to track your outgoing affiliate clicks. You need to find out who is clicking what to find your best-performing blog posts.

Getting this data is crucial to analyzing the performance of your blog posts and your affiliate links.

ThirstyAffiliates

Best WordPress plugin for cloaking your affiliate ID's from scammers and for showing a friendlier link to your blog readers.

Expert tips on affiliate marketing for bloggers

After finding some products you want to promote and signing up to the affiliate program, the next step is to actually add affiliate links to your blog posts.

1. Pre-selling

But before you go adding affiliate links everywhere, keep in mind that people don't buy things just from random links. They need to be warmed up first and then told what to do. This is called pre-selling and is the number one reason why most bloggers fail at affiliate marketing.

Let me use this blog post as an example. I'm an affiliate of the link cloaking plugin ThirstyAffiliates. Notice how I didn't introduce the affiliate link until deep within the article? That's because had I introduced it earlier, it would've gotten more clicks, but wouldn't have resulted in any actual sales.

I first described the topic: affiliate marketing. Then I described the problem: affiliate link theft. Finally, I offered the solution to solve the problem: the ThirstyAffiliates plugin.

This pre-selling is crucial to making any money with affiliate marketing.

2. Build an audience

If you want to make money with affiliate marketing, you need an audience who trusts in your recommendations.

And an email list is the perfect way to build that audience. I both use and recommend ConvertKit to start your email list. You can grow your tribe for free using this link, which unlocks sending emails to up to 1,000 subscribers.

3. Try the product first

You shouldn't promote something you haven't tried first. Every single tool I promote on this blog has not only been personally vetted by me, but I actually use on a daily basis.

By only recommending products that actually work, I'm building trust with my audience and making money.

4. Create sales-centered content like product reviews

Step 1 is to build trust. Step 2 is to turn that trust into money.

If you create enough valuable content that helps your readers, you're going to be known as a trusted source of information.

The next step is to turn that trust into money by creating product review posts, step-by-step tutorials, and product comparison posts. This type of content is built to convert.

5. Add a resources page

Right on the menu of my blog I have a link to my resources or tools page. This is a page that every blog should have.

On this page, add links to the products and services you use and recommend - whether or not they are affiliate links.

6. Create an email sales funnel

The best way to make money with affiliate marketing is by recommending products to your email subscribers. This is exactly how I make money with my keto diet blog.

To sell higher-priced affiliate products you need to warm up your audience a bit first.

Your first few emails should describe a problem in your niche, why it's important to solve it, and finally introduce the solution to this problem.

How to make more money with affiliate marketing

If you're a newbie to affiliate marketing I recommend starting with the Amazon Associates program to learn what types of products your audience wants.

Once you start making sales you can move on to other affiliate programs that pay a higher rate, but still focus on selling low-cost products.

The final frontier in affiliate marketing is moving on to selling higher-priced products and getting a higher commission! Here's the action-plan:

1. Promote high-priced products

In order to truly take advantage of affiliate marketing you need to move toward promoting high-priced products that pay a larger percentage of the sale.

While that's much easier said than done, it's a must if you want to make serious money with affiliate marketing.

2. Get to know your affiliate manager

I recommend messaging your affiliate manager and establishing a relationship with them early on. There's a few advantages that can really pay off for you:

- They can create a custom sales page for your audience.

- They can provide you with a coupon code to share with your readers.

- They can increase your affiliate payout percentage.

Examples of affiliate marketing articles

I use affiliate links in most of my blog posts but here are the ones I created specifically to promote an affiliate product.

Any questions?

Thanks for reading til the end! Want more help with affiliate marketing? Drop your questions in the comments, I'm here to help.

Until next time,
Edwin, DoSixFigures.com

just a little > about me

About edwin

Edwin Contreras is the professional blogger behind Cash The Checks and Do Six Figures. Over the last 17 years, he has started over 100 profitable blogs on his way to a six-figure income as a full-time blogger. He is now obsessed with helping people just like you escape the 9 to 5 and make serious money online. You in?

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continue > the conversation

  • Great post for those who want to begin with affiliate income. I really enjoyed the examples, meaningful and real.

  • Lots of great info! Thanks for sharing!

  • I think you covered everything you possibly could cover about it in this post. super helpful for any person making a first step in blogging

  • Affiliate marketing is the bread and butter of bloggers. It’s probably the easiest way to earn money blogging. And your blog post will help beginner bloggers to start as they mean to go on.

  • Olufunke Kolapo says:

    I have learnt a lot here, mostly on scammers hijacking affiliate sales. I didn’t know that, thanks.

  • I just started with affiliate marketing and I’m on my 20th day. I think I’m actually doing pretty well.

  • These are really great and useful tips for entrepreneurs who are just getting started within this niche. They’ll no doubt find so much information from this article!

  • This is so helpful for people try to expand! There are so many wonderful tips here!

  • We’re seriously considering affiliate marketing for our ecom business, super excited about it…

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