Note: Affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my affiliate link. I only recommend products that I use and love!
How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
Want to start making money with affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways for bloggers to earn money. Maybe you’ve heard of it before, but just aren’t sure how to get started. Maybe you’ve heard of bloggers like Michelle from Making Sense of Cents who earns $50,000 per month from affiliate marketing while working 10 hours a week and traveling the world, and you want to experience the same success. Or maybe you have no idea what affiliate marketing is, but want to learn.
If any of those sounds like you, then read on! I wrote this guide to help you understand affiliate marketing if you’re a total beginner. I will explain everything you need to know, and give you actionable steps you can take to start earning money from affiliate marketing yourself.
Do I need a blog for affiliate marketing?
While you don’t absolutely need a blog for affiliate marketing, having one is by far the most popular and profitable way to make money from affiliate marketing. Without a blog, you might have trouble getting approved for some affiliate programs as well.
If you don’t already have your own blog, check out my step-by-step guide to starting one in less than an hour. (You can also get hosting for your blog for just $3.95 a month from Bluehost AND get your domain name for free when you sign up through my link!)
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is promoting products or services and earning a commission when someone makes a purchase through your unique affiliate link.
By promoting products and services you already use and love on your blog or social media, you can earn money through affiliate commissions.
There are affiliate programs for almost any type of product or service you can think of. Clothing, makeup, home goods, travel booking websites, craft items, ebooks, online courses, etc. No matter what your blog is about, there is an affiliate program for you to join.
With most affiliate programs, you will earn a commission every time you make a sale through your affiliate link (pay-per-sale.) However, there are two other types of affiliate programs that you might encounter: pay-per-lead and pay-per-click.
- Pay-per-lead means that you will earn a commission if someone simply signs up for a free trial, creates a free account, gives the company their email address, etc. For example, Tailwind is an affiliate program that pays per lead: You earn $0.50 for every person who signs up for a free trial of the service through your link.
- Pay-per-click means that you earn money every time someone clicks your link. An example of a pay-per-click program is the affiliate network ShopStyle.
When someone makes a qualifying action after clicking on your link (either by making a purchase, signing up with their email address, or just clicking) this is known as a conversion.
What are the benefits of affiliate marketing?
There are many benefits to affiliate marketing that make it a great source of income for bloggers. Some of the benefits of affiliate marketing:
- Passive income. Once you have created content containing affiliate links, you don’t have to do anything else. I have one blog post that consistently earns me a couple hundred dollars a month, just because it gets a good amount of traffic and contains affiliate links.
- Easier than products or services. While many bloggers create their own products or offer services on their blog, both of those things are time and skill intensive. Affiliate marketing is super easy to set up and start earning.
- Good for new bloggers. Unlike other forms of passive monetization (such as placing ads on your blog) you don’t need hundreds of thousands of page views in order to start earning a decent amount of money with affiliate marketing. This makes it a great option for new bloggers looking to monetize.
Affiliate programs vs. affiliate networks
Some brands or companies have their own independent affiliate program that you can join.
However, there are also affiliate networks that give you access to many different affiliate programs. One of the most popular affiliate networks is ShareaSale. It’s totally free to join, and you will have access to thousands of affiliate programs all in one place.
Both affiliate programs and affiliate networks are good, but sometimes independent affiliate programs do pay higher commission than affiliate networks.
How much do you get paid?
There are two options when it comes to how much you can get paid per conversion.
- Flat rate. You get paid the same amount per conversion. For example, my hosting company Bluehost pays a flat rate when someone signs up for hosting through my link. The flat rate starts at $65 per sale, but goes up once you start making more referrals.
- Percentage. You get paid a percentage of each conversion. For example, let’s say you’re an affiliate for a product that costs $100, and the commission rate is 20%. You would earn $20 per sale you refer.
Who pays you and how often do you get paid?
You will get paid by the affiliate program or network, most often via Paypal or direct deposit.
How often you get paid depends on the program. Keep in mind that some affiliate programs may have a 30 to 90 day delay on payments, while others require you to reach a minimum sales threshold before you can cash out.
How are affiliate links tracked?
Once you sign up for an affiliate program, you will be assigned a unique affiliate link. You must use this link in your blog posts, social media, etc. if you want to be credited for your sales.
Any time someone clicks on your affiliate link, that action is stored by a “cookie” in that user’s browser. Different affiliate programs assign different time frames to cookies which will determine whether or not you are credited for a sale.
For example, let’s say Product A has lifetime cookies. This means that if someone clicks your affiliate link, but they don’t decide to buy Product A until a year later, you will still get credited for the sale.
Let’s say that Product B has a 3-month cookie. This means that if someone clicks your affiliate link, but don’t come back and purchase Product B until 4 months later, you would not receive a commission.
Longer cookie windows are obviously better, because it maximizes your chances of making a sale. You can usually find this information in the details of an affiliate program when you join.
What products and services can you become an affiliate for?
There are so many affiliate programs out there! Fashion, beauty, travel, home goods, crafts, business, blogging, and personal finance are just some of the niches you can find affiliate programs for.
One way to find out if a company has an affiliate program or not is simply by Googling “(Company) Affiliate Program” and seeing what comes up.
Some companies have affiliate programs that are part of affiliate networks, which I talked about a little earlier. My favorite affiliate network is ShareaSale because it’s easy to use and they have literally thousands of brands. Another popular affiliate network is Commission Junction.
If you need help finding good affiliate programs to join, I put together a list of 40 profitable affiliate programs for bloggers, broken down by blogging niche.
Want to grab the list? Just enter your details and I’ll send it your way!
How can bloggers make money from affiliate marketing?
Once you have joined a few affiliate programs, it’s time to start promoting your affiliate links! There are a ton of ways you can promote your affiliate links
- In blog posts (check out my tips for writing high-converting affiliate posts)
- On social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
- On Pinterest (I wrote more about this in my ebook Get Paid to Pin)
- To your email list (learn how to start your email list and grow your subscribers)
When sharing affiliate links on your blog, social media, etc. it’s important that you always disclose that you are using an affiliate link. You can read more about the FTC’s rules for disclosure here.
I also recommend downloading the free Pretty Links plug-in for WordPress. This will let you keep track of your affiliate links and easily insert them into your blog posts.
Do I need a lot of traffic or followers?
I have personally found that you do not need a ton of traffic or followers in order to start making money with affiliate marketing. I made my first affiliate sale on my blog with less than 1,000 page views. And I made my first affiliate sale on Pinterest with maybe 300 followers. And I made my first affiliate sale to my email list with less than 200 subscribers.
While you do not need to be getting 100k monthly page views on your blog, or have 10,000 social media followers, there are a few things you do need to do to start making affiliate sales:
- Only promote products you truly use and love and are proud to stand behind. People can tell if you are being fake.
- When writing blog posts that contain affiliate links, you should always be providing value to your reader. Explain how and why the product is helpful, and show examples from how you have personally used the product.
- Follow the 80/20 rule: Spend 20% of your time creating content, and 80% of your time promoting it. No one will click your affiliate links if you aren’t getting them out there!
By following these tips you will make your first affiliate sale in no time!
How to be successful with affiliate marketing
I highly recommend that all bloggers who want to earn an income from affiliate marketing invest in the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course.
Michelle, the creator of the course, is a blogger who earns $50,000 a month from affiliate marketing. Investing in this course really helped me grow my income from affiliate marketing, because I have been able to apply Michelle’s tips and strategies that she uses on her blog.
The course also contains bonuses that are worth the price alone in my opinion. For example, you get access to blogger Rosemarie Groner’s exclusive Pinterest strategy that she uses to get 500k page views per month. After implementing the simple strategy, my traffic shot up overnight, from 6,000 to 14,000 page views.
(P.S. If you decide to purchase Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing through my link, email a copy of your receipt to me at email@example.com and I will send you a free copy of my ebook Get Paid to Pin, which is all about how to make money with affiliate marketing on Pinterest!)
Good luck and happy earning!
Disclaimer: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, and at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my links. I only recommend products and services that I have personally used and love.