If you are going to make an extra income online, you will have to either sell something or promote something. Whether by advertising directly or affiliating to certain brands.
If you read my guide on building a website, the next step is to Monetise your site. Two ways to do this is by Advertising using Advertising tools such as Google AdSense, Skimlinks, propeller ads, even Amazon native shopping ads, or Affiliate Marketing.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a business model in which a company (merchant) compensates a third party (the affiliate) for generating leads or driving traffic to their products or services.
Thousands of companies use this form of advertising to generate more sales; in fact, prominent household names such as Walmart and AT&T in the US and BT and TripAdvisor in the UK use affiliate marketing to promote additional sales. This industry is worth around $12 Billion worldwide.
When you join an Affiliate program, you enter into a contract that needs to be mutually beneficial to both the affiliate network or merchant and yourself as the affiliate.
Many companies such as Amazon, eBay, SEMrush have their own affiliate programs, and you will need to apply to these directly. Others such as Walmart and BT outsource their Affiliate programs to global affiliate networks such as Impact, Awin, and CJ affiliates. These Affiliate networks act as an intermediary between the merchant and the affiliate, and they perform all the application vetting, tracking, and payment on their client’s behalf.
As we mentioned earlier, when you get accepted onto an affiliate program, this needs to be mutually beneficial to both parties.
The merchant/affiliate network will require that you represent their brand honestly and ethically, and they will have their own terms of service, which you will need to have read and agree to adhere to so as not to hurt their brand name.
For yourself as the affiliate, you will need to build up trust with your audience, whether this is on your website or through social media. So it is super important that you choose brands to affiliate with that align well with your brand and also to make sure that they fit well with your personal beliefs and ethos.
Remember that you have an obligation to your audience to offer good service when referring products and services, so make sure that they are brands you believe in. Your readers will spot a fake referral a mile off and want their referral to draw from real-life experience.
Whether you’re a Blog site, review site, or social media influencer, you need to choose your affiliate brand carefully, don’t overcrowd your site with Affiliate links, not just will Google penalize you for this, but also you need to remember why you set up your site in the first place, yes you want to make money, but you also want to help, educate and inform, right?
How does it work?
Different affiliate programs offer different types of compensation; some offer one-off payments, others provide recurring payments; below are some payment examples.
TripAdvisor offers different rates of compensation depending on how many clicks to their booking partners from your link.
Bluehost offers payments from $60 ( £44.08) to $130 (£95.5)per sales referred from your link.
AWeber offers a 30% recurring commission on the sale of one of their products, with a minimum payout of $30(£22). Their cookies last for a staggering 365 days, so if a customer revisits their site within 365 days after initially being referred from yourself, then you still get paid for that referral!
Once you choose and join your program, they will provide you with an affiliate link; this link is a URL link to the merchants’ site, including your unique referral ID.
Sometimes the referral ID will be embedded within the link; however, other times, your link URL will include your ID, such as firstname.lastname@example.org
As you can see, this can be a little off-putting to your potential customers as it compromises their trust so that you can use URL shorteners such as Bitly and Short.io.
I use a WordPress addon called ThirstyAffiliates which shortens your affiliate URL and tracks the links, so you are able to see the amount of traffic and, more importantly, the source of the traffic that your leads are generating. Therefore allowing you to see in an instant which campaigns and media sources are working for you.
When a potential customer decides to click your link, it will then direct them to the merchant’s website. The merchant will install cookies on the customer’s machine and use them to track the customer; your affiliate network or merchant will have provided you with an agreed cookie period ( the amount of time between the customer clicking on your link and purchasing from their site).
The cookie period is usually 30 days but can vary between 24 hours and one year.
The payment amount is pre-determined by your Programs terms, and you will get paid per CPA (cost per action), which you can see in the examples above, varies from program to program.
How to get accepted onto affiliate programs
It’s not automatically a given that you’ll get accepted onto an affiliate program, so to increase your chances of success, you can follow a few simple but important steps.
Have a website or domain.
If you want to increase your chances of success, it is essential that you already have your own website or at least your own domain with a business email address. The likelihood is that the affiliate Manager will want to check out your website and its content, but if your email lands on their desk with a @yahoo or @gmail address, then it is not likely that they will even read your email. You can pick up a hosted email address for as little as $1 or £1 from hosts like IONOS, so there is absolutely no reason not to give it a try.
Have a plan.
Ensure you have a plan when the Affiliate manager contacts you; let them know how you intend to promote their product, if not on your website, which social media platforms you will be using. It’s crucial to have read their terms and conditions; some affiliate programs are very specific about where and how you can use your affiliate link and the promotional material you can use. Have your site statistics from Google search console and Google analytics to hand so you can demonstrate how much traffic you can generate and how strong your call to action and conversion rates are.
Your Website quality.
Make sure your website looks professional and it has good content relating to their brand; the affiliate manager will be looking for the same as google when it comes to pages and content. The site needs to be clutter-free and have a good design. Your pages need to have plenty of relevant and helpful content, pages with over 2000 words generally rank better, your pages need to be free of spelling and grammar mistakes, and you need to have a high SEO focus.
Although not imperative, for some of the choosier affiliate programs, they will be looking at your domain Authority when making their selection; higher DA generally means higher page ranking and more traffic to your site. Think about what your domain authority should be at when applying. For tips on how to improve this, check out my guide on Start your own website
Make yourself available.
It may sound obvious but make sure that you are checking your email regularly and are responding promptly. If you have provided a phone number, make sure you have an answering machine dedicated to your business and has a professional-sounding message; return any calls promptly. This will let your prospective affiliate manager know that you are a professional who means business.
How to promote your Links
The obvious way to promote your links is through your website; however, to start with, you will need more than just the Organic traffic from a google search; other ways to promote your links are through social media and depending on the type of site you have such as blog, review site, eCommerce site, and the products you are promoting, you will need to work out which form of media works best for you.
Using social media is also a great way to promote your site in the early days, since it will take some time for you to be able to get search engine traffic, by using social media you will be able to drive brand awareness and push trafic to your site and blog articles.
You can set up a Business account on social sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. By following others in your niche and posting regularly you will eventually gain followers and you then have a captive audience to promote to.
Increasing your following on social media will also open up advertising opportunities for you and you’d be surprised that you don’t need a huge following to get paid to advertise, check out what you can get paid here
the main types of social media to promote on are listed below. are
Social networking sites
Image sharing sites
Video sharing sites
Social networking sites.
Social media sites are an excellent way of advertising passively by commenting on users’ posts and directing them to your site or your affiliate’s site through your links. Many of these sites have specific communities that cover a variety of topics and interests; join a group or community that fits the topic you’re promoting best, and then interact with your users. Some sites don’t allow indirect advertising, so maybe you can just comment on someone’s post and offer advice or mention a product you love to use; when asked more about this, you can reply with a link to that site (your affiliate link).
There are lots of sites social network sites out there and include
Microblogs create specific posts to encourage audience interaction and discussion; the most popular of these are Twitter, tumbler and redit and are a great way to discuss a topic that relates to your particular niche while slipping in the odd affiliate link within the discussion. most Microblogs include audio, images, and video
My particular favorite is Reddit which has over 1.5 billion subscribers; it is a mixture of social news, groups, and forums. The site divides into sub redits, which cover a multitude of sub-topics for you to join in and make comments on.
There are lots of Microblogs out there for you to promote your business and include
Image sharing sites
Image-sharing sites capture people’s imagination quickly since we all respond to visual input. The most popular image-sharing sites which incorporate a social element are Flickr, Instagram, and Pinterest.
These sites are a good platform for eCommerce sites to promote their products, and you will see lots of photos of products on Pinterest with a link to the merchant’s site. People use these sites to get inspiration for interior design, entertainment, fashion and beauty, and many other topics, so it is a great way to showcase your product visually.
Video sharing sites
Video sharing sites are another excellent way for eCommerce sites and Review sites to showcase their products. A video will not only give you the chance to showcase your products visually, but it will also allow you to demonstrate them in action. Because of this, however, competition is tough from other affiliate marketers. There are tons of unboxing and review videos out there, and if you’re able to make yours stand out, then you can expect to get an excellent method of free advertising.
YouTube is the most popular video sharing site; however, there are plenty of others too, including
Just like microblogs, discussion forums are another great place to drop your affiliate links into the conversation. Pick a topic that’s relevant to your promotional product and start recommending your services. Discussion forums are full of people searching for answers to their problems, giving you the ideal opportunity to solve their problems while promoting your service.
Some of the most popular discussion forums are
If I can give you a last word of advice when you are on these sites and forums. Try to keep most of your comments helpful and informative, and do not constantly refer to your products. Stick to maybe a 70-30% to 80 – 20% in favor of genuine advice and reflection, with a small percentage towards promoting your product, making sure to make your referrals relative to the conversation, since most sites don’t encourage direct advertising.