There are hundreds of thousands of blogs worldwide, but very few are well monetized.
A 2017 report by ConvertKit shows professional bloggers earned approximately $138,064 in 2016, while amateur bloggers made just $9,497 during the same period. This shows the need for bloggers to monetize their sites in a smart way and go beyond just creating content.
One of the best ways to monetize your blog is through affiliate marketing. It involves promoting products and services through the blog in exchange for a commission for sales made.
Here we’ll answer what is affiliate marketing and how to start affiliate marketing to monetize your blog.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is an arrangement between an affiliate and a merchant to use a platform (in this case, your blog) to advertise the merchant’s products. The affiliate marketer (blogger) includes an affiliate link leading the reader or visitor to the merchant’s site where they can purchase the product or service.
Merchants track the sales via affiliate links using the cumulative purchases made to compute the respective commissions due to the affiliate marketers (bloggers).
Seller: The seller can be a large or small business looking to market a product. For example, an ecommerce merchant may have started a dropshipping business and wants to sell to a new audience through affiliate websites. The seller may approach bloggers with content relating to their products to promote their product.
Affiliate/Publisher: The affiliate is the individual marketing the seller’s product. A blogger acts in this capacity by including an affiliate link on their website. If the consumer purchases the product, the affiliate receives a commission. Since affiliates have specific audiences to whom they promote the products, it’s easy for them to create brands or niches.
The consumer: The consumer is the primary driver of affiliate marketing programs. Once they purchase a product or the service, the seller and the affiliate marketer share the profits.
Benefits of Monetizing a Blog through Affiliate Marketing
Now that we’ve defined what is affiliate marketing it’s important to know there are some numerous benefits to monetizing your blog. Here are the five major benefits.
1.Earn a passive income: This is because you receive compensation for years after creating the content.
2. Doesn’t need customer support: Affiliate marketing programs link sellers directly to consumers; hence no need for customer support.
3. You can work from home: Many bloggers pursue this venture because they can work and earn from home.
4. It’s cost-effective: Affiliate marketing programs don’t require much capital investment as other businesses.
5. Performance-based rewards: Affiliate marketing rewards are based on performance. Honing review skills and writing engaging blog posts, translates into increased revenues.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
Here we’ll break down exactly how to monetize your blog and how to start affiliate marketing step by step.
First, the affiliate marketer (blogger) joins the program and receives an ID and URL for promoting the merchant’s product. You can use Amazon affiliates, sites like ClickBank, or create a direct relationship with the merchant.
Second, the affiliate includes the link in their blog content and invites the reader or visitor to click on it. Once the buyer clicks on the affiliate link, a cookie is created to identify the affiliate’s site and ensure the publisher is credited with the sale if it occurs
Third, when the buyer completes a sale, the seller checks the sales records to identify the cookie matching the source of the referral. If the sale is related to the affiliate ID, the affiliate’s account is credited with the sale.
Finally, the merchant then sends the report to the affiliate to confirm the referrals. The merchant pays the commissions to the affiliate marketers at the end of the payment period.
How to get started with Affiliate Marketing
The simplest way to monetize a blog through affiliate marketing is to sign up with an affiliate program and share reviews/ tutorials/experiences with links and banners on your website. This in-depth overview should help you.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
Know your readers and what they are looking for when visiting your website or blog. Find common characteristics and use them to create content that resonates with their needs.
Sometimes you don’t need to develop much content; the perfect landing page can send your visitors to the highest-converting sales page. Here are tips to help you learn about your audience:
Conduct a survey: A survey with the relevant questions should help you identify what your audience is looking for. Plugins and a range of software also help collect this data.
Join discussions: Facebook, online communities like Quora and Reddit as well as niche-specific forums, should help you gain insight about your audience interest.
Observe a visitor’s behavior: Tools such as Google Analytics, Crazy Egg, HotJar, and more come in handy when studying readers’ likes, dislikes, patterns, and other insights.
Go through reviews and the buyer’s purchase activity: Customer reviews also come in handy when you want to find out popular products customers buy and why they do it.
2. Create High-value Content
Value is the precursor to monetizing a blog. It’s not about creating lots of content but instead thorough, referenced, and well-written content. Skimping on the quality of the content will limit your ability to monetize the blog.
As such, if creating tutorials or informative posts, ensure you interweave them with videos and other sources of information to help your readers gain value. Keep in mind Google evaluates the value of content when ranking search engines too. It summarizes the value of content into three features:
Relevance: Does the blog have relevant keywords, links, and content
Uniqueness: The content should be authentic, not spun or duplicated
Usefulness: Is the content easy to read? Does it provide value to the visitor?
High-value content also builds credibility with your audience. This is because your audience are confident about finding crucial information, for example, about a particular product when they visit your website. Blogs involving product review posts, for example, target people further along their customer purchase lifecycle.
3. Choose the Affiliate Product to Promote
While products related to your content are useful, you aren’t restricted to these alone. Consider other types of products the audience might be interested in.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of choosing a product based on superficial metrics like popularity, commission rate, or competitors.
Some products attract a considerable buzz for a short while before fizzling out. Look for evergreen products as they can sell for years and are more likely to keep you earning a passive income for a long time.
As an ethical blogger, choose products based on these two factors. The first is experience in using the product or products that are a good fit for your audience. This approach is useful for new affiliates as it makes it easy to find an affiliate program.
You only need to visit a search engine like Google and type affiliate program and product name. Also, products you can access via trials, free samples, or purchases for evaluation make great affiliate products. Typical products used for monetizing blogs with affiliate marketing programs include:
Digital Downloads: These are online resources readers can access instantly. They can be video files, ebooks, or links to webpages
Professional services: When selling services through affiliate programs, focus on products accessible to your entire audience regardless of their location. It explains why professional services like design, creative business, and content marketing are great for affiliate marketing. Research, membership sites, and consultancy also make excellent services for monetizing a product
Online courses: It’s an essential subset of digital products, especially for bloggers
Ecommerce stores: If promoting physical products, choose high-quality, distinctive products targeting a specific audience. Avoid products your readers can access on any site as the commissions are relatively small
4. Choose Relevant Affiliate Marketing Programs
The next step involves finding an affiliate marketing program that complements your niche or blog content. If you have researched affiliate offers before creating the blog, it’s easy to find the programs. If not, look for an affiliate marketplace. The sites host thousands of brands offering affiliate programs. Some reliable options include:
CJ Affiliate: This marketplace hosts more than 3,000 brands hence a ripe platform for finding the right affiliate for your blog.
ShareASale: The marketplace offers more than 2,500 commission-based affiliates.
Amazon: It’s the most popular affiliate marketing platform as it hosts millions of brands. The obvious benefit of using Amazon’s platform is that you get a commission on the customer’s purchase, not just the item linked to the merchant’s site.
ClickBank: The platform is similar to ShareASale and is very consumer-focused.
5. Apply for the Affiliate Program
Whether you’re working directly with the network or the merchant, you need to apply for partnership with the program. You’ll be required to provide:
Personal information for tax purposes
Your bank account for compensation
In turn, the merchant provides an affiliate link that allows them to track purchases made through your website
6. Identify the Type of Affiliate Commissions on the Offer
Many affiliate programs provide compensation in the form of commissions. However, they use different models, which can make a huge difference in your overall monetization strategy. They include:
One time commissions: This model is ideal for affiliates marketing one-off products or services
Recurring commissions: The model is based on subscriptions. Once customers subscribe to a plan, the affiliate receives a commission
7. Start Promoting Your Affiliate Offers
You can only monetize your blog if the reader, visitor, or customer purchases the product, right? As such, you need to lead the reader to the product after convincing them about its value.
Many affiliate marketers flop during this stage, assuming it’s as easy as displaying banners on the blog linking the products to the merchant’s site. Such efforts are a waste of time. Instead, you want to:
Create a Resource Page on Your Website: The page allows you to promote different products and organize them based on the audience visiting your blog. What’s more, it explains the value of the products. Note, it’s not a sales pitch for the products but an informative guide for each product
Create promotional content: It can be in the form reviews, definitive content, or valuable bonus content
8. Add Affiliate Links to the Content
This is the last step after creating the resource page and valuable promotional content. It would help if you used software such as E-Junkie or Easy Affiliate Links to help you integrate affiliate links with your content. Here are tips to get you started:
Avoid stuffing affiliate links to the post: Too many links discourage readers from reading the content or even clicking on the affiliate links.
Strike a balance between monetization and providing valuable content: Minimize advertising the affiliate products within your content. Instead, keep it focused.
9. Comply with FTC Requirements
The Federal Trade Commission, websites, and blogs are required to inform users know that they are earning a commission through an affiliate program.
This means whenever you share an affiliate link on a blog post, email, or web page, let the readers know that you will earn a commission if they buy the product. Also, assure the buyer that you’ve used the product and are confident it will help them.
10. Include Calls to Action
Strategic calls to action woo visitors into finding more about the product or service after reading through the content. The idea is to use attractive wording and find strategic areas to place the CTA’s. Here are some ideas:
In the content
On the homepage
On the menu
11. Track, Analyze, and Adjust to Increase Conversions
Generating leads to affiliate sites doesn’t always yield conversions. You need to stay on top of your game by analyzing the leads and conversions to determine if you need to improve your marketing strategies.
Some affiliate programs provide such data allowing you to analyze it, obtain actionable insights, and make adjustments.
You may also use Google Analytics as it tracks every user’s movement on a website while providing useful interests and demographic data.
12. Optimize for Mobile Browsing
Generally, most visitors use mobile devices when browsing the internet. As such, you need to optimize your blog, affiliate links, and promotion products to these devices. Consider using free WordPress plugins like Advanced Ads to target mobile visitors specifically.
With this guide you are ready to monetize your blog with affiliate marketing.
Here we defined what is affiliate marketing. Next, we showed you how to start affiliate marketing to monetize your blog. Finally, we outlined the 12-step process to start earning more money from your blog.
Follow this process and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly you can see more money coming from your blog month after month.
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