This article will describe how to make money blogging by using affiliate products. That way no matter how many people come to your site, there is always a way to earn money, because while blogging can be fun when you do it for free, it’s better when you’re making money.
This article will cover the following topics:
- What is an affiliate (and why should you be one)?
- How to find affiliate opportunities as a complete beginner
- How to create affiliate driven content that makes you money
- How to use affiliate links to create an endless stream of content
What Is An Affiliate (And Why Should You Be One)?
An Affiliate is someone who sells another company’s product or services and makes a commission from the sales of those products.
Let’s say you run an SEO blog, and I came to you with my new eBook about Link Building. I’ll tell you that, for every copy of my $20 eBook you sell through your blog or mailing list, I’ll give you $10. You agree and proceed to sell my product on your site. Now, you’re an affiliate for my product.
This sale comes at no extra cost to your readers, as well. They don’t pay for your affiliate commission. Instead, that comes out of the pocket of the person who owns the product.
There is no limit to how many products or services you can be an affiliate for. You can do it across different niches, websites, and mediums. You can become one on YouTube, your blog, a forum or your mailing list. Wherever you have access to people.
Being an affiliate is an excellent way to monetize your blog. But by connecting people in the niche you blog about, to the products they want, you’re able to both help them and earn an income. For example, a lot of my income on this blog comes through Affiliate Sales on products.
If you’re unsure how to make money blogging right now and don’t want to invest time and energy into creating your digital products, affiliate products offer the perfect solution.
And, while I don’t quite believe in passive income – where you make money from a product without being there – you’re able to generate automated sales. People can click your link days, week, months or even years after you posted it. That means you can make extra income you didn’t even account for.
Okay, if I’ve sold you on using affiliates to kick start your blogging income, let’s answer a critical question…
Yeah, That’s Great…But What Do I Sell?
The short answer?
Anything you think will benefit your readers.
- Got a blog post where you recommend a product? Turn it into an affiliate link.
- Got an about page where you talk about a book you read that changed your life? Add an affiliate link to it.
- Got a tool that you use every day to make your life easier? Man, you may as well become an affiliate for them, too.
The long answer is that, if you can think of a product that you believe in, and they offer an affiliate program that you feel will benefit your audience, you should offer it to them through an affiliate link.
Think of all of the:
- Books you read
- Apps you use
- Tools you use
- Plugins on your site
- Concrete products (Protein powders, Powerline Adaptors, Candles, etc.) you use day to day
And, if they benefit your audience (even loosely) you can present it to them as a product available for them to buy, or that they need.
It’s so straightforward and easy to do; you’ll kick yourself that you’ve not already taken advantage of this opportunity. And, if you’re sat on the fence, you really should become an affiliate convert.
Do It Yourself
Grab a notepad and pen (or Evernote if you’re not Old School) and make yourself a list.
On it, you’re going to include all of the products you use that relate to your niche. Or, that you’ve bought recently that have gotten you excited.
I like to do this by going through my recent Amazon Purchases in my Email history. And by taking a look at how I’m spending my time, and what I’m using when I do it.
For each DIY section I’m going to use examples from the Fitness Niche, because I’m training for an Ironman next year.
Here’s what my list would look like based on the last month:
Books I’m Reading
- Man 2.0: Engineering The Alpha
- Going Long: Training For Triathlon’s Ultimate Challenge
Products I’m Using
- Garmin Vivosmart HR
- Garmin Forerunner 920XT
- Tanita BC-1000 Scales
- 5×5 Smart Lifts App
If you’re unsure of where to start these are some categories I’d recommend paying attention to:
- Physical Products
- Digital Products
- Services (Internet Hosting etc.)
- Products you want to buy
This will be specific to the niche your blog is in. If you’re in the baking niche, you may look at ingredients or electrical products you use.
Alternatively, if you’re in the Cycling niche, you may look for oils, tools, saddle bags and pedals that you’ve been using.
Throw down everything you can think of on to this page, and we’ll look at how you can monetize it in the next step.
How To Make Money Blogging As An Affiliate
If you’re ready to take the plunge into affiliate marketing, you’ve probably got one pressing question you want to be answered, “How the heck do I become an affiliate?”.
Becoming an affiliate is a pretty easy process. For a lot of products, it’s just a case of signing up to their program (more on that in a second).
Now there will be some products that have a hidden affiliate program. For example, SERPed is one affiliate I work for. They don’t openly advertise their program. Instead, they reserve access to influencers they feel will get them results. These are the higher end of affiliates, so don’t worry about them for now.
But if you’re interested in a product, and can’t find access to their affiliate program, you can always shoot them an email. But they aren’t the focus of this article. Instead, I’m going to show you the easy ways to become an affiliate, so that once you have a proven track record, you can get access to the even bigger commissions.
Become An Amazon Affiliate
Amazon runs a program called Amazon Associates which helps you make money from almost any product available on their site. You can make up to 8% commission on the products people buy, which can be a nice little earner.
All you have to do is place the products in your articles, or on resource pages (more on those later) and when people click through and buy, you’ll get a percentage. If they continue to purchase other products, you can also make a commission on them, too. So, how does it work?
Step #1: Sign Up For An Account
All you have to do is head to the Amazon Associates page for your country and sign up for free. You need to have an account in every country that you plan to link to. Once you’ve chosen an account, you’ll be asked to fill out some details. Where you’re from, your business, the type of site you own and so on. Just fill it all out to the best of your knowledge.
Step #2: Find Products You Want To Sell
Hopefully, you have an idea of products that you want to sell. If not you’re going to need to do some digging around. Let me show you an example with the Fitbit Charge 2. If I search it in my Associates Dashboard, it’ll come up in my search results:
Let’s say you want to find what the hottest deals are in your niche right now. You can head to the Amazon homepage, select your niche, and be taken to a collective page of all the items available.
Go ahead and browse a little deeper until you find a product you like. Find hot products that have lowered in price, your favorites from the list you created a little earlier, or your evergreen favorites that people need to know about.
Step #3: Add Them To Your Content
At the top of your page, you should see a toolbar like the one highlighted below…
This gives you the option to take that product, in either a text, image or text and image format, and place it on your site. For these purposes let’s go for text. Give it a click, and you’ll see a box like this:
All you have to do now is take the link and add it to some text in your blog post, or on one of your pages. A little like this:
And then, there you have it, a link that if people click and buy from you, you could make 8%-10% just from that one transaction.
This works for almost any product – as long as it’s relevant to your site – and you can put a heck of a lot of these in your content, to give yourself the maximum amount of coverage to convert people.
Okay, well that was easy enough. How else can you make money as an affiliate?
Search Out Your Favourite Brands Affiliate Pages
If you’ve got a favorite brand that you love or a product that you use every day, there is a good chance that they have an affiliate program you can become a part of. All you have to do is search them out.
For example, sticking with the fitness niche, I found that MyProtein – a global supplement provider – have an affiliate program that I can apply to.
But, enough about how I could make money. How can you go about finding these opportunities? Well, let me show you.
Option #1: Start With The Products You Use
As a blog owner, you’re probably using some tools of the trade already:
- Email platform
- Image creator
- Theme Template
- Automatic Social Media Sharer
These are usually at the backbone of your blog. And, that’s before you look at industry specific tools and services you’re using.
So, let’s look at one every blogger shares – email marketing software. Head to their site – like I’ve done for Drip – and sniff around to see if they have an affiliate program there. You’ll often find it in the footer. Or, sometimes, in the header:
Click the link, wherever you find it, and it’ll take you to a landing page where you’ll find out about the commissions you’ll make. And, if you fit the right criteria. This offer from Drip doesn’t look too shabby:
The sky is the limit using these products. And, they’ll apply to any niche – lots of people who read your blog want to be bloggers themselves, after all. You can implement the same methodology to any of the products you’re currently familiar with. If you use a product to run your blog or make your daily (online) life easier, you may be sitting right on top of a goldmine.
Option #2: Look For Brands You Want To Work With
If you sit there and think about it right now, I bet you can think of four or five brands you’d want to work with off the top of your head. They create the products you love and, therefore, the products your readers will love, too. And this is where you should start with this option.
Go ahead and create one of the following Google searches:
- “[brand name]” + “affiliate program”
- “[brand name]” + “affiliate rewards”
- “[brand name]” + “referral”
Being sure to swap the [brand name] for the name of the brand you want to work with. These searches will bring up a set of results showing you the affiliate programs for that brand (if they exist). For example, if I wanted to create motivational social media images for other triathletes, I may use a program like Stencil. So let’s see if they have an affiliate program I can use as well for when I sign up. If I do a quick search in Google…
Yep, they have an affiliate program, and I can head straight through to their page to join it. Simple and easy.
Not every product you want to be an affiliate with will have a program. Quite notably tools like Spotify and Buffer don’t offer an affiliate rewards program. However, you’d be surprised at the amount that do. Now, once you’ve tried that, there’s one more option to exhaust…
Option #3: Affiliate Marketplaces
Affiliate marketplaces like ClickBank, are like a central hub of places you can find products to sell.
Think of it like the Dashboard on Netflix, or your Amazon Fire Stick. Here you’re able to browse products, in a category you work in, and find products that suit your site. Then, you can promote them.
Some will come in the form of Banner Ads. Others will be links you can hide in your content. And, there will be others that you can promote to your mailing list, even like a product launch.
I’m going to keep this short because it doesn’t quite tie in with the Newbie approach, however, there are opportunities here for you to develop partnerships with products (and people) and promote them to make commissions of up to 50%, or even more.
My great advice to you right now, especially if you’re just starting out with your new blog, is only to promote products you’re familiar with or believe in. The more you get to know your audience, and the more they start to interact and purchase from you the more you’ll be able to pick and choose products based on your gut feeling and what they care about. And never choose a product just because it will make you money. That’s a sure-fire way to lose yourself an audience right there.
By now, you should have a good idea of how to get access to Affiliate products to start monetizing your site. But, that leads on to the next question, “How do you create content that sells them?”
But before I answer that in the next section, there’s one important rule I need to mention…
Don’t Get Caught Out: Make People Aware You’re An Affiliate
One of the guidelines for being an Amazon Associate, as well as others, is that you declare you’re an affiliate to the products. Now, this doesn’t need to be done on every page. Although some bloggers prefer to do that. Instead, I suggest you create a separate disclaimer page, like this one from Nichehacks.
That way you’re completely transparent…just maybe not on the exact page that they’re on.
Below is the exact text you need to add and fill in with your information to create the Amazon disclaimer for your site.
[Insert your name] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert the applicable site name (amazon.com)].
Do It Yourself
In the last Do It Yourself section you took the time to find what types of products you’re using, and what you would want to sell to your audience.
This step is a little time consuming, but it’s the most important stage of them all. Because, without it, you can’t make money from any of these products.
So, what do you need to do?
Step #1: Sign Up For The Right Programs
Head to the right Amazon Page and set yourself up as an Amazon Associate. If you’re not sure which one to sign up to, go for the UK and USA ones for now. You’ll be pretty well covered with those two.
Secondly, go ahead and find four different products that you like with Affiliate Programs and sign up for those as well. You may have to apply for those, so don’t worry if you send it off and don’t hear back. Give it two weeks then look elsewhere.
And, if you really want to, take a minute to sign up for Click Bank (or similar) just to see what’s on offer.
Step #2: Find Links That Will Make You Money
Woo! The bit you’ve been waiting for. The bit that you get money-making links.
This will be easiest for Amazon right now. Find the products you like and get their links from the toolbar. Then, add them into a spreadsheet or Google Doc. This will become your go to sheet when you have a product to sell.
It can be as simple as looking at the content you’ve written (or even just a Social Media Message you’re sending) and adding the link in where it fits. That can really be a good source of income.
However for now, it’s just important to have started on the database of links. You’ll learn more about the content creation next.
How To Create Affiliate Content That Converts
In this section, I’m going to show you how to write simple, yet effective, content that will show you how to make money blogging just from a few simple pages.
There are three types of content that you should focus on as a new blogger to promote your affiliate links:
- General Resource Pages: A page for your entire blog that covers the top layer of products that you use.
- Specific Resource Pages: A resource page for a specific problem.
- Product Specific Blog Posts: A specific blog post, like a product review, that covers a product. Or covers an issue that uses the product to solve it.
This should be more than enough for you to promote and begin monetizing your site. You’ll find that you can promote these pages, while still adding value to your audience, and start making some money.
How To Create A General Resource Page To Sell Multiple Products
A resource page is a page on a blog (or website) that shares the tools you use to help your readers replicate your results. Or, the tools they can use to get the results they want.
You’ll often find these pages on the header bars of blogs, like here on Smart Passive Income:
Or, here on the Nomadic Matt blog:
And, here, on Jeff Goins’s blog:
Resource pages are integral to the incomes of big blogs, yet they’re often overlooked by beginner bloggers.
They’re one of the easiest affiliate pages to set up, and you deliver only value to your reader. With these pages there is a simple three step process you should follow…
Step #1: Explain Why This Page Exists
At the start of every good resource page is an explanation of why the page is here. It doesn’t need to be an incredible piece of sales copy, either.
You just need to explain that you believe in these products.
Nomadic Matt does this perfectly here by explaining that these are the products he uses to get a clear result. And, that if you want to be like him – either in travel or blogging – this is where you’ll find his secret sauce.
When you write this section for yourself be sure to include:
- That you believe (wholeheartedly) in these products
- That they’ve helped you achieve success (whatever that is)
- This if they want to replicate your success, this is where they’ll find some of the answers
This gives social proof to all of the products and shows that you’re transparent in your efforts. Trust me that can go a long way.
Step #2: Product Groups
The next stage is to group your products into sections that they’ll be interested in. This allows the reader to skip beyond the sections they don’t want and find the products they’re interested in.
Pro Tip: If you add a heat map here, like the ones from SumoMe, you’ll be able to see where your customers are looking and choose/create products based on that information.
Step #3: Explain What The Product Does
The final step is to explain, next to your sexy new affiliate link, what the product does or how it’s helped you.
You don’t need to be a master copywriter to do this. Just, instead of telling people what the products does, say what you were able to do because of it.
That will be more enough to help convince people on this page to at least click through and then buy the product at the other end.
This is the perfect place to place all of the affiliate links that you have. Every time you get a new product on board, you can just add a link to this page, so it’s forever on display.
Okay, that’s general resource pages. Let’s look at a more specific resource page.
How To Create A Specific Resource Page
A specific resource page is a little different to what you’ve just read about. These posts stand on their own – and often rank on their own – to share tools to help you achieve a specific goal.
For example, my absolute favorite of these comes from Benny Lewis over at Fluent in 3 Months. This shows you just how wide a range of options you have to create resource pages. All filled with powerful affiliate links that add an insane amount of value to the end reader.
If head to his blog and search the word resources (or just click here) you’ll find he has a resource page for most major languages, as well as some niche languages like Irish.
And when you go through to click on to them, you’ll find that it’s a page rich in affiliate links that all help solve a direct problem of the reader.
For example, this page on learning Spanish has some content, but gets right to the links and products.
And what’s truly brilliant about a page like this is that it always feels like you’re getting value.
This is just a friend who is there to recommend tools you can use to master your language.
Creating these pages isn’t hard, either. It can be as simple as creating a How To blog post. Only filled with products and resources that your readers are going to love.
Here’s how to do it…
Step #1: Find Your Audience’s Pain Point
Choose a subject that particularly eats at your audience. Think about what it is in your niche that keeps them awake at night:
- Being in a car that isn’t safe
- Overspending on airfare
- Baking food that tastes awful
- Not being able to complete their marathon
If you’re not sure what their pain point is, look for yours. What keeps you up at night?
Keeping with the Fluent in 3 Months example, he’s chosen the biggest pain point for language learners – actually learning the language, and doing it well.
Be that Spanish, Japanese or English.
Whichever strikes you hardest, that’s the topic you’re going to build this post around.
Step #2: Find The Products That Will Help
What products out there in the world are going to help them solve this problem? Or, what did you use to help you solve the problem?
Benny’s chosen topic is Speak in a Week which get’s people to speak from Day One. So, he’s curated products that allow them to tackle that.
For you, try to think about the different stages of the problem: getting started, making progress, adding the finishing touches, staying motivated. Then find what works for them.
By the way, these don’t all have to be affiliate products. You’re able to add products that you just think will help, too. But, you know, it does need a sprinkle that will make you money.
Step #3: Create The Post
All you have to do now is format them in a way that your audience your audience will love.
This will be specific to your blog, so I won’t teach you to suck eggs.
But if you are struck, I’d recommend that you follow the structure of the general post section, but with sections that are specific to the problem you’re writing about.
How To Create Product Specific Blog Posts
For these types of posts, you’re going to dive deep into one product and explains the benefits of it to your reader.
In my experience, and through testing, I’ve found the focusing on one product and not multiple can be incredibly effective at converting to customers.
This is because it gets rid of a problem called choice paralysis. That’s where people have so many options that they don’t take action on any of them.
And, the good news for you, is that people use affiliate blog posts – whether they know it or not – to cure themselves of this choice paralysis.
Imagine you’re stood in front of a row of 10 books about marketing. You want to buy one of them, but you have no idea which. In this situation, you’ll do one of four things:
- Ask someone you know for a recommendation
- Look online for a recommendation
- Buy a random one and hope
- Throw your hands in the air and walk out of the shop without any books
Your job is to convert the people who take option two (the one in bold) into buying the product you recommend.
For the example here, I want to refer you to one of my most successful affiliate blog posts, about SEMRush.
In this post, I took the product itself – a huge suite of digital marketing tools – and broke down everything you could do with the tool.
But this wasn’t just to show people who have the tool what they should be doing. It was to show people who were on the fence about buying it what they could achieve when they bought it.
In essence, this is a product review. But how did I get it to generate 800+ comments and massive amounts of social shares?
I solved their problem – sucking at marketing.
For the time being, as a beginner, I’d suggest you stick to writing either reviews or personal stories.
Product reviews allow you to talk about a product in the realm of your audiences life. To some people it will be a great product; to others it’s will be a terrible one.
But giving your expert opinion on them, and showcasing what it’s capable of, you’re able to transform their opinion into one of a buyer (or someone who really doesn’t want it).
Personal stories, on the other hand, allow you to show how the product helped you. This provides a lot of social proof and transparency.
For example, if you use a product to make a real change in your life/work/niche/, and document what happened, you can show people the true power of the product.
That gives you a huge advantage in generating sales.
Do It Yourself
That was a big section. So, let’s keep it short and sweet here.
What I want you to do is really simple.
Take one of the above suggestions:
- A general resource page
- A specific resource page
- A specific product blog post
And create it as a page (or post) on your site.
Take all of the affiliate links you gathered for the last section and add them in.
If you want to start from scratch, try and create a more specific page using only products that solve that problem.
Then you’re going to promote it to your audience. Either through social media or your mailing list, whichever you prefer.
Sit back. Relax. And just see what happens.
How To Use Affiliate Products To Create An Endless Stream Of Content
Believe it or not, Affiliate Products can help you create an endless source of content that not only makes you money – but engages and captivates your audience. Let’s take my affiliate example from before, of the Mizuno Running Leggings.
How many different types of content could I create for this? Let’s get beneath the surface and find out.
- Product review: After using the product (if I have used it( what did I think of it? What was good? What was bad? And how I think my audience would benefit.
- Experiment: Share the before and after of your results by using the product. What was my run like with them, and what was it like without them?
- Essential Products Post: I could include this link in a post about the essential running products you need to buy.
- Best Of Post: Why not write a round-up of how my performance has been this month? Oh, and these leggings just happen to be a big part of it.
- Tutorial: How to use the leggings to get a desired result. In this case, less muscle soreness. When should you wear them? How to use them for best results? (This might be a stretch for running leggings, but you get me).
That’s five pieces of content you’ve got, just for one link. And this isn’t even versatile for a product. Imagine what you could create if you’re using a product like a Camera or a Drone!
If you have a database with only five or six links in it, you’d still be able to create 25-30 different pieces of content to fit those links in and sell them to your audience.
That’s a lot of opportunities to sell and create content.
For every affiliate product you find, look at all of the different ways you can spin it in your niche. Use the five examples from above, but also look for what other blogs in your niche are doing.
Copy them. Or, do the complete opposite of what they’re doing and see what results you get.
But every time you come into contact with a new brand, product or service, you also have a handful of new content to write about.
If you do it like you’ve been shown in this article, it won’t feel like a pitch, and you’ll make money while engaging your audience.
Win, win, win, right?
Wrapping It Up
To help cement it in your mind, here’s a catch up for you to make sure you’re got the key points.
How To Find Affiliate Opportunities
- Look at the products in your niche that you use a lot
- Look for the products you’d like to own, or work with, in the future
- Find them on Amazon, or their own personal Affiliate Programs
How To Get Access To Their Programs
- Sign up to become an Amazon Associate
- Apply to Affiliate Programs of the products you use
- Sign up to ClickBank (or similar)
- Create an affiliate disclaimer on your blog
How To Create Content That Makes You Money
- Create a general resource page that shows how you run your day to day life
- Create a specific resource page that helps solve a problem
- Create a specific product post that reviews, or showcases, how a tool can be used
- Dig deep to find all the opportunities your link presents you to create constant content