Affiliate marketing – the right way
If you haven’t monetized your blog, or you don’t have a blog, make one and start making money with affiliate marketing.
You’ve probably heard by now about affiliate marketing, but even if you didn’t I will explain it for those who know nothing about it.
So what is it about affiliate marketing that makes it so good?
Well, almost everyone who makes big bucks online has been involved at some point in this type of business.
It is a great way start making money relatively fast, it offers great scalability, over time it will become passive income and it is a real opportunity to make 7-figures or even 8-figures.
If you have any questions about anything in this guide, feel free to reach out to me through the message app on my website, or if don’t answer immediately, submit your question on the contact me page.
Enough introduction, let’s get straight into the point.
What is affiliate marketing?
The simple definition of affiliate marketing is that the seller and the affiliate are sharing the profits of sale that happened, after the recommendation by affiliate.
In human words, you as an affiliate point the customer to the seller’s website and if that customer buys product you get commission for that sale.
Here is an infographic that explains the process of affiliate sale.
There are three sides in this selling mechanism: the seller, the affiliate and the buyer. There is also another one that is not required, but it is often involved in the process and that is affiliate network.
Now I’m going to explain to you the role of each one in this system.
Merchant is a company, or an individual, that has a product to sell. Merchant can also be called vendor, seller, manufacturer, product creator or retailer.
Product can be a physical product like camera, vacuum cleaner, or any other consumer product. It can also be service or software that helps people with their workflow.
If a merchant wants to grow their business, they can offer commissions to affiliates, whether directly through their site, or through a network.
Affiliate network is a company/website that connects merchants with affiliates. It is not mandatory ingredient in this process, but it is present very often. Some merchants choose to connect with affiliates only through networks.
Network makes it easy for both sides to find partners for cooperation. Without networks, the affiliates would have to find merchant’s website somehow to join the affiliate program.
The most famous networks are Commission Junction, Clickbank, Share a sale, JVZoo, Awin and Peerfly. There are more, but I won’t waste much time into researching, because these 6 offer huge amount of affiliate programs.
Signing up for an affiliate network usually requires that you have a website, since they want to prevent people from spamming the web with their affiliate links.
If you want to join any, you have to provide correct information about yourself to avoid being banned from network. Also, when you get accepted you must abide the rules of the network to keep your account.
If you have any questions about networks contact me or leave a comment below.
Affiliate, also known as the publisher, can be a person or a company that promotes products or services and gets compensated if sale occurs.
Affiliate is the main character of this guide, therefore this guide is pointed for those who want to become one. There’s no need to explain more about this role in the affiliate system since the rest of this tutorial is all about affiliates.
Also known as the customer or consumer is the most important link in the chain of affiliate marketing. Without customers to purchase products, this whole thing is pointless.
Money makes the world go around!
When consumer buys the product or service through the affiliate link, affiliate and the merchant split the profits.
The customer may, or may not, be aware about the rest of the affiliate chain, but it is still going to pay the same price, as if it went straight to the merchant’s website, and not through affiliate link.
If you were wondering how the heck do you track the sales and links and receive payments, now I’m going to explain how this works.
How does tracking work and how do affiliate gets paid?
Every affiliate gets personalized link that he can share. The system tracks if someone has clicked on that particular link and made a purchase. Everything is done automatically, so you don’t have to worry about that part.
There are some scammy merchants which don’t credit the affiliates and take all the money for themselves. That is why you should only work with established affiliate programs and through affiliate networks.
You should also avoid affiliate programs that don’t show statistics about how many times someone clicked the link. This is very important for measuring the effectiveness of your marketing.
If you don’t have statistics, you can’t know if people are clicking the link, and what percentage of people who click the link complete the purchase.
Affiliate networks or merchants usually give you the ability to have multiple personalized links for your own tracking. This is important for your performance tracking of different link placements.
You may put your link on multiple pages on your blog, or in other places like YouTube, social media, etc. Knowing where the customers are coming from is important for optimizing your pages for better conversions.
How do you get paid?
This is also something you might be wondering.
Some networks or merchants offer only check payments until certain amount of sales or money is acquired. Some pay via PayPal or direct wire transfer to your bank account.
Take some time to read those terms and conditions that you always click “I agree”, without ever reading them. Affiliate marketing is a serious business and it should be treated like one. Imagine signing a job contract without reading it.
In any of these cases, you should usually have at least 20$ to 100$ to be eligible for payment.
Do I get paid immediately after I get 100$ in commissions?
Well, every partner has different payment schedule, but you should expect to be paid once a month generally. Some programs or networks pay you once a week or once every two weeks, it all depends. Read the contract!
There is one more thing to talk about on this subtopic, and that is what are the triggers that signal merchant to make payment to the affiliate?
Until now we talked only about sales. But it isn’t always about the sale. Sometimes the consumer only has to complete certain action for affiliate to be credited.
There are two more types of actions that are required from consumer in order for affiliate to get credited.
One is “Pay per lead” type, where consumer is required to fill out a form on merchant’s website, download a software, sign up for the newsletter, sign up for some free trial, etc.
The other one is “Pay per click”. As the name says, whenever someone clicks on a link you get paid. These programs are very rare because of the massive click frauds and they usually have some certain requirements to ensure that those clicks are legitimate.
Of all three of these types of actions, I prefer only the one where consumer purchases the product. It offers greatest returns and it is somehow the fairest way to go.
If you are interested in other two, feel free to do some research and figure what works for you.
Before we move on, I would like to remind you not to hesitate to ask for any help about any topic. I’m here for you.
What are the requirements for success in affiliate marketing?
Running a successful affiliate marketing business require some certain material tools and some immaterial tools. If you want to grow bigger than making few dimes, having those tools is mandatory.
Let’s clear things out. When I said tools, I meant tool like anything that helps you get the work done.
Now I’m going to explain what I meant by material and immaterial tools.
Here’s the deal. You must have a website/blog.
There are numerous advantages for having a blog like making yourself more credible, creating landing pages for collecting emails, having your own personal space on the web and much more.
Every successful marketer has its own website, so what does this tell you? Also, some affiliate programs or networks require that you have a website.
If you don’t know how to make website, check my how to make website from scratch tutorial.
Videos are best content for catching people’s attention and YouTube is the biggest player.
There are multiple uses for having a YouTube channel.
For one it can stand alone. You can create video tutorials explaining to people how to use certain product or software and place your affiliate links in video description.
If only 1% of people who watched this video went to that product site and proceeded with purchase, that is 2500 people. If Pat only made 20$ per referral that is staggering 50k from one YouTube video. It is more likely in the range of 150k-300k.
If you learn how to manipulate the power of YouTube for your own good, you can create decent amount of income.
But just to be clear, Pat Flynn has his own website(s) and podcasts and he does webinars and whatnot. This is not overnight success, but being present in more than one place is the way to success.
Social media networks
Speaking about more online presence, where else to be? Social media, of course.
Learning how to use and leverage social media networks is of great importance for success in online business.
You don’t have to learn everything right now, although that is pretty impossible without trial and error, but learn as you go. Over time you will learn all the ins and outs of individual social networks.
They have a great potential of driving massive traffic. If you have 50k followers on Instagram and you publish a story for every new post, you can drive thousands of visitors to your brand new post from one social network.
Of course, it takes time to build that following, but all good things take time.
Text editing software
If you are going to create a blog, you need to have some software to write your posts before publishing it online.
I am using Microsoft Word for my creating content for my blog posts or e-books.
It has great interface and amazing features.
It also has cool black background with white letters that are a blessing for your eyes.
I’m not saying that Word is the best, but it is good for me. After all, every person has its own taste, so what works for me might not work for you and vice-versa.
If you don’t have money to invest in writing software, there are some free programs to help you with writing.
Someone already did the research, so why would I bother. Here is the list of best free writing apps for writers from Techradar.
Free or not, get some app and start writing!
Now that we explained all the material requirements for succeeding in affiliate marketing, let’s talk about the untouchable.
Basic knowledge of PC and smartphones
Knowing how to open Minesweeper game on your PC is not what I consider basic knowledge of PC in 2019.
The society has evolved rapidly in the last decade, considering internet and PC awareness. Even people in their 80’s are using Facebook and Google these days.
That’s why I think that the basic knowledge should be considered much higher than 10 or 15 years ago.
In order to succeed in online business, using mouse, keyboard and your smartphone with ease, like they are the extensions of your arms, is pretty much unavoidable.
If you feel like you have some issues with your PC/smartphone knowledge, please contact me with any problem and I will try to resolve it.
It is that priceless thing that is quite limited. We only get 24 hours a day, and that’s it.
Knowing how to make good use of your time is very important skill for success and growth.
If you work 2 jobs, and barely make ends meet, than you should learn how to properly save money to work less for someone else and work more on yourself.
The ultimate requirement for being filthy rich is good management of your time. There’s only so little we can do in one day, so make your time worthy.
Writing blog posts takes time!
First you have to find a topic, then do extensive research and take notes, then write your outline, then create a post, then edit it, then get it reviewed by someone else, then copy from text editor to your website, then set up redirect for affiliate links, then upload all the images and insert all the links and at the end publish your content.
I researched and gathered knowledge for months so I can write this post. I am new to affiliate marketing, same as you, but when I do my research I don’t stop until I understand completely.
Learning how to master time management is one of the most important aspects of successful people, so make sure to invest some time (paradox) into learning how to have more free time.
Willingness to succeed and patience
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of desire to become successful in general for accomplishing any success with online business.
Learning how to make money with affiliate marketing, or any other way, takes a lot of time. That is the main reason why so many people fail, because they don’t have that force that drives them toward success.
You have to be patient and keep producing good content and the result will come.
If you are struggling with motivation, make sure to read Rich dad poor dad by Robert Kiyosaki. It was the book that launched my self-esteem through the roof. Also check my top 20 books for entrepreneurs post.
There is also this great YouTube channel Motivation Madness that has some very good motivational and educational material.
Ability to trust people
At some point in your online business career you are going to be overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done.
There’s no way that you can do every single task for yourself. If you are spending all your time creating content, you’ll have less time to connect to your audience on your site, YT channel or social media.
On the other hand, if you spend all your time in promotion of your blog, you won’t be able to create good content.
That’s why outsourcing some of your work is mandatory for your business’ growth.
If you have big trust issues, better make sure to resolve them if you want to become highly successful in online business.
If you are wondering “what am I going to write about” and “who’s going to read my blog”, I’m about to explain that in the following parts of this post.
How to choose a perfect niche for your blog?
This is definitely the toughest challenge that you will face at the beginning of your affiliate marketing journey.
Making the right decision and choosing the right niche is vital for your future success. You don’t want to waste months creating a blog that won’t make you reasonable amount of money.
Basically, any niche can be profitable if you make the best blog in the business, or among the best, but as a beginner that is not something you can rely on.
I’m going to show you some of the most popular niches and how can you leverage them to create a sustainable online business.
What is niche, anyway?
For those who don’t know what niche is, I’m going to briefly explain the definition.
It is basically specialized market that interests certain group of people.
Let’s take cars for example.
It’s practically not a niche, since almost everyone has one and the audience is very broad. There’s nothing specific about an average car owner.
We must have the audience with certain similar characteristics, so that we know what their interests are and use that to produce content that will attract them to our website.
But let’s dig deeper and take a look at some specific niches related to cars.
Some of targeted audiences are those interested in manufacture, muscle cars, drag racing, custom cars, rims, driver stunts, safety, children safety and much more.
Let’s take children safety seats for example. You know what to expect when you choose this niche.
Users searching for children safety seats are almost certainly aged between 18-40 and have small children, or they plan on having children.
If you know who your audience is and what are their needs, you can create content that deals with their problems and point them in the right direction so they can buy what they need, and you get your affiliate commission.
Now let’s mention some very popular and broad niches and some smaller ones to spark your imagination.
Large and small niches
The general rule is that the narrower your audience is and more specific, it’s going to be much easier to connect with them, satisfy their needs and make profit.
This site’s niche is “make money online”. It is not very targeted niche, but I have gathered enough knowledge so that I can compete with “sharks” of this niche.
Some sub-niches of this broad and competitive niche are affiliate marketing, SEO, ecommerce, web design, etc.
Another huge niche is fitness. Hundreds of millions of people are interested in fitness, so even its sub-niches are huge.
You would have much higher chance of success if you focused primarily on the likes of weight loss, bodybuilding, supplements, yoga, cross-fit and other smaller sub-niches.
There are thousands of niches to choose from. You can’t pick one just because you like it. Choosing a profitable niche takes good amount of research and it is very important step that you can’t take for granted.
Here is the list of around 2000 niches where you can find lots of ideas.
That is why I’m going to show you some basic free tools that you can use to assess whether there is enough space left in that niche.
I know that research is boring and time-consuming.
By doing proper research before launching your website, you are stepping into the pro’s category. This is what separates losers from winners.
If you consider making money in the next 10 years, for example, make sure to choose a niche that is evergreen. If you make your website around Halloween, you can expect to have visitors only few weeks prior to that holiday.
On the other hand, something like pets will bring visitors all year long, and in the future too.
Another very important requirement is to write about something that you love and know. If you are writing about growing plants, but you feel no passion for that niche, your content is going to be average, at most.
One of the main mistakes newcomers make is getting into a certain niche just because others are doing it.
I made that same mistake when I started a dropshipping store that sold women’s makeup. It failed because I didn’t feel any passion when I created a website or when I wrote product descriptions. That’s not me.
Your website needs to reflect your personality and that’s why you need to select a topic that is relevant to your personality.
Imagine a middle-aged man writing about women’s clothing. WHAT? NO WAY!
Now that we established that your niche should be evergreen and something connected to you, let’s talk about some practical methods to find profitable niches and how to check the amount of competition.
It would be ideal if you find untapped niche with huge potential and no competition. Unfortunately that is impossible.
Affiliate marketing exists for quite some time, and wherever there’s profit someone had already put their claws on.
Your focus should be to find something that is as close to ideal as possible.
Whet searching for profitable niches, first look if there are good affiliate programs out there. Almost every niche has some affiliate programs, but it is better to do some research if you choose a niche with small audience.
You can find this out by going to Google and typing “your_niche + affiliate programs”
From the image above you can see that in the first few results there are many ideas for affiliate programs.
Each of those affiliate programs should be researched properly before marketing, because some of them are scamming people and we don’t want to promote scams. Especially in “make money online” niche.
Enter your niche keyword here and see some similar results with monthly searches and CPC.
These results are usually not accurate, but they can give you the general idea of how popular is your niche.
If there is lot of high-CPC keywords that means that there is money out there.
Of course you can involve your own common sense into research. You know that people are going to search for weight loss products.
If there is high natural demand for something, it makes sense that people will go online to find answers.
If you run a blog where you teach people on parenting, you know that hundreds of thousands of people are going to search for that topic every month.
Now that we know how to find niches with high volume of monthly searches, let’s find out just how tough it is to compete for the piece of cake.
Competition isn’t bad at all. F**k it, I love competition!
Having strong competitors means that you must create better content than them, and eventually beat them.
You do have to put in lot of effort to achieve that, but spying on your competitors will give you some great ideas for your own blog posts.
Read posts from competing websites, gather knowledge, combine into great post and it will rank, eventually.
My goal, and it should be your also, is to grow my website gradually and beat the big players over time. If you want to make big cash online, you have to go at the top of Google search results.
According to Google, 73% of all traffic to business sites comes from search engine. This shows that you must rank your site high, so that you can make your bank balance high.
Ranking in Google requires good SEO knowledge, but the basics can be learned pretty fast. As you learn more and more, your rankings will grow.
3.5 billion searches every day! I know that I can grab at least micro-percentage of that number.
I’m not intimidated by competition and neither should you be.
Digital or physical products?
This question is very important. When you are in the process of choosing a niche, this aspect cannot be overlooked.
I’m going to explain the main differences between these two.
What are digital and physical products?
Physical products are ones that you can hold in your hand like camera, laptop, cell phone, etc.
Digital products, also called information products, are products in electronic form like e-books, courses, software and more.
Digital products tend to have much higher profit margins than physical products.
The reason is very simple.
With physical products there are few issues that digital don’t have. Physical products require storage space, shipping, every unit has to be manufactured individually and some more drawbacks.
With digital products the only cost is your time and maybe some money invested in software you need for work.
That is why commissions on physical products are below 10% and on digital ones is usually between 20-50%.
There are some affiliate programs like Hammacher Schlemmer that pay 8% commission on physical products. That may not seem much when the product costs 20$, but check this out:
If you convince just one person to buy this boat that means that you get paid 120k in affiliate commission!
It pays off to build entire website just for this one product!
While commissions on physical products are lower, there are many high-ticket products that cost couple thousand dollars that people will be more than willing to buy if you convince them properly.
Reliability of merchants
If you are in the sphere of digital products, you are going to encounter many scammy affiliate programs that sell nothing for something. Later I’m going to tell you how to judge if affiliate program is good or not for consumers.
Also there is one other factor that will determine the probability of customer to purchase product you are promoting and that is trust issues.
People are used to buy things online from established retailers like Amazon, but getting them to buy some online course from some unknown retailer takes a lot of persuading.
When people want to return physical goods, they have to ship it to the retailer to be refunded. When they want to refund information products, all it takes for them is to go to merchant’s website and ask for a refund.
This is the reason why dealing with information products tends to have much more refunds than physical products.
That is just part of the business we cannot affect. Few refunds, here and there, shouldn’t concern you.
Let’s quickly sum up all the factors that are important for choosing a niche.
- Is this something you know and it is your passion?
- Is it evergreen?
- Are there good affiliate programs?
- Are there enough searches on Google?
- Informational or physical products or both?
- How tough is to rank on Google? (Who cares!?)
Use these 5+1 steps when determining the profitability of a niche and you will make the decision easily.
BONUS TIP: There are some niches where Google rankings are futile. I will give you three examples.
As you can see, before the first search result on Google there are 4 ads followed by Google local search. Even being at the first position for this keyword will bring you probably less than 10% of the traffic.
Most of search queries related to food will bring similar results.
Let’s take a look at the second example.
Just like in the first example, there is a lot of content before you even get to the search results.
In some niches like fitness, Google tend to display videos before blog posts.
This third example is real SEO killer.
As you can see, Google sometimes tends to display answer to the search query.
There’s no point ranking for these types of keywords because 99.9% of users will be satisfied with this answer and move on.
There is also a situation where images are displayed on top of search results, just like with videos.
When you are selecting your niche, make sure to type niche-related keywords into Google search and see what comes up.
If similar results appear, like from these three examples, you cannot count on SEO traffic and you will need to drive traffic from elsewhere.
We will talk about how to drive traffic to your blog later on, but now I will tell you where the best place to put your affiliate links is and how to make people click on your link and complete a purchase.
Affiliate link placement
At the beginning of this section I want to teach you where NOT to post your affiliate links.
Before you learn what is the proper way to do it, you need to know what are the bad practices.
Spamming is wrong, right? If you are posting your affiliate links all across the web, people may click on them, but nobody is going to buy products you promote.
Some people post comments on YouTube videos, blogs, forums and social media, where they put their affiliate links and hope someone buys through their link.
This is horribly bad practice! You will just annoy people and it simply doesn’t work.
There are more than few places where posting your affiliate link seems like a natural choice.
Let me give you one practical example how to put links that flow with the content.
After doing quite a bit of research about different web hosting providers, I came to the conclusion that a2hosting offers best performance and usability.
Do you see how I naturally placed affiliate link for the hosting provider that I use and promote?
This way of promoting affiliate offers gives your links the best chance of being clicked, therefore increasing your chances of getting commissions.
Now, in what part of your article should you place affiliate links?
Let’s say you write a blog post that explains in detail why some product is good for your audience and how to use it.
If people find that product useful after reading your post, they are more than likely to click on your link and buy the product.
You can put your link once at the beginning of the post, once at the end and few times in the body of your post, as long as they feel like they belong at that place.
There are other post types that are great for affiliate links and I will show you some right away.
This is the type of post where you list number of different products in one place and do a short review of each one, by displaying pros and cons.
You can also post a list of all the tools required to get some job done.
Some examples are “Top 10 smart watches in 2019” or “20 things you need for conquering Mount Everest”.
In the first example post you will write a list of 10 smart watches and explain what is good about each one, what is bad, how much it costs and you will put your affiliate link for each one. You can point them to Amazon or some other retailer.
In the second example you will list all the tools that someone needs to climb to Mount Everest. You will explain why each tool is necessary and show people where to get them.
I hope that you can see why this is such a good type of posts. You can place numerous links in one post and it will feel very natural to your visitors.
List posts are great for grabbing attention. According to study by Conductor, numbered headlines catch the people’s attention better than any other type of headline.
Link posts also generate more backlinks than any other type of post.
This page is essentially a list post of all the resources that you (supposedly) use and recommend to other people.
You can explain in few sentences how, and why, you use each of the products and point people to merchants’ website.
This is a gold mine for affiliate income, since you are telling people what you are using. If your audience trusts you, they would want to use the same products as you.
Similarly to what I told you at the beginning of this section, instead of reviewing single product you can do a detailed comparison of 2 or more products.
When people are not sure whether to buy one product or another, they usually go online and search for the comparison of those two.
If they happen to land on your site and you explain them in detail the features of each one, the will understand better what suits them and they will be ready to buy.
All that is left for you is to point them in the right direction (your affiliate link).
This post type is similar to list post, but there are usually not more than 3 items on this list.
Other places on your blog
There are some other places where you can put your affiliate links, but they have much lower chance of clicking and therefore converting.
You can put banner ads on your site that contain affiliate links, but in 2019 people hate banners and they hardly click on them.
You can also put your links in your regular blog posts. The post doesn’t have to be about that particular product, but you can mention it briefly as something you use.
That’s about it for blog placements. Let’s see some more places where you can put links, other than your blog.
Videos are the most engaging piece of content and that is why being on YouTube, as the greatest network, is very important.
Many people use this platform to find answers to their questions.
All that you have to do is to create good quality content to answer their questions and, if you provide value to your viewers and point them to product website, you can expect of them to purchase that product.
There is only one place on YouTube where you can put your affiliate links, and where it is not considered spam. That place is description of your videos.
Similarly to blog posts, you can post video reviews of products, product comparisons, list videos and other.
I showed you before the example of putting links in video descriptions, but you aren’t limited to number of links you can post.
I don’t know if this works or not, but some people put bunch of affiliate links in every video description.
You can test if these video-unrelated links work for yourself. I will test it in the future and I will share results on my website.
Whether these links bring money, or not, links related to the topic of that particular video will get majority of clicks and much higher percentage of people will buy the product.
YouTube has some more benefits that we will cover later.
Forums are a great place to find people who seek solutions for their problems.
They have less potential than blog and YT channel, but they can make you some money.
Some forums don’t allow affiliate links, so you must read forum rules before deciding to join one.
Before posting your links on a forum, you must first engage in different topics to build reputation. If you just go and spread your links everywhere, you will get banned quickly.
If you like forums, you can find one that are in your niche and join it. For the first month or two only answer questions without links.
After that initial period you can put some affiliate links here and there, but keep it at the minimum.
Forums are also good for driving traffic to a website. I will talk about that little bit later in this post.
Social media networks
The main reason why people come to social media sites is to fulfill some of their needs.
If you want to put your affiliate links to social media sites, you have to do it in the way that seems natural.
Every major social network has some places where it is appropriate to put your affiliate links.
You can’t expect these links to generate some crazy amount of income, but it can serve as an addition to your blog or YT channel.
I’ll mention just some networks that I think would be good choice and where to put links on each one.
Facebook is the biggest shark in the tank, so I must include it in this list.
Few years ago, when you posted anything on your business page you would reach big percentage of your audience.
As of beginning of 2018, Facebook decreased the reach of business pages dramatically. They say it is because of some mumbo jumbo better engagement shit, but they really want you to pay for advertising.
But, no matter what, you should have your business page. It is a good way to reach more people and promote your brand.
It is also a good way to connect with your existing website audience on multiple levels, thus making stronger connections with your readers.
Some people prefer certain social network, as a way to receive news. Whenever you publish new post on your blog, make sure to notify your followers on Facebook.
Now where do affiliate links fit in?
If you build good engagement with your Facebook followers, you can sprinkle some affiliate product from time to time. But, certainly, not all the time.
I would say, put one affiliate product once every 10 valuable posts to not be considered as spammer.
One more way to spread affiliate links can be in FB groups.
Most of them are ghost towns, with few readers and million spam posts. But, if you find one that has lots of active users and no spam, you can engage in group conversations for a while and, after gaining credibility, you can occasionally mention some affiliate product.
I am not sure how good this method is going to work, but you can try it for yourself and find out.
There is one more way to utilize FB, and that is messenger. If someone asks you for advice, you can lead conversation in a way that you offer him some affiliate product at the end.
This one can be really good, because people came to you asking for help, and that means that they already trust you.
Instagram is the fastest growing social network. There’s no denying of its popularity.
You can use it like your website extension, as with Facebook.
You must really learn how to properly use Instagram, before you can see all the advantages.
One that is not available to anyone, but rather to those business profiles which have more than 10,000 followers, is putting links in stories.
When you already have 10k followers, some of them will engage well with your brand. Post useful content regularly and when you cross that 10k bridge you can put some affiliate links into your stories.
But don’t overuse it! Obviously.
As with Facebook, your followers can send you direct messages (DM), and you can do the same drill of solving their problems and pointing them to affiliate link.
Technically, you can put affiliate links on Pinterest, but I would advise you not to do it. It can bring you some quick bucks, but it is a bad long-term strategy.
If you don’t know what Pinterest is, then I will explain briefly.
It is a social network that is all about images. Here, people can “pin” images from their websites, or some other URL, and put link to a blog post or any other page, including affiliate links.
This is something I don’t do.
Put yourself in the head of the person who opens your image. He sees your picture, clicks on a link and ends up at some sales page.
Is this person going to buy product? Hell no! Maybe 0.1%.
I, personally, want to be convinced with details into buying something. I want to hear that people recommend it. I don’t trust their sales page.
Neither do people on Pinterest.
You, as a blogger, must give good information and build trust with your readers before pointing them to the affiliate link. That way they will be much more likely to buy that product.
That is why you should always point links from pins to your site.
I will create a tutorial very soon, about taking advantages of Pinterest to grow your blog. If you want to be informed when that tutorial sees the light of day, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter.
Twitter is an old bird, but very vital, in deed. It has more than 300 million active monthly users, and that is a lot of people.
You can post your affiliate links in tweets, but like on Pinterest, it is better to build your audience and send them to your website.
I will talk later how to leverage twitter to drive traffic to your website.
LinkedIn is a great platform and a unique one.
What separates LinkedIn from the herd is that its users are here to learn and for business purposes. Don’t try to sell crap, it won’t work.
People on this network are very aware of advertising and they don’t like it.
So, where do affiliate links belong here?
First, when you create an account on LinkedIn you must use your own, personal image and correct business info.
Second, you must post great content that people will love and build your reputation.
When people start to trust you and engage with your content, you can add an affiliate link from time to time.
But make sure that products you promote are oriented to business people and that they could really benefit from them.
I recommend that you start learning how LinkedIn works and use it for your blog promotion.
Email marketing is a great way to connect with you readers. Unlike social media accounts, everybody has email address.
When you start collecting email addresses on your website, it is the same as building your own, personal social network. Network that you own.
Imagine Facebook. They lure you into their network with their awesome features, and from time to time they show you some ads.
This is the way you should treat your email list. Give them something useful, like notifications of your new posts or some personal story and make them to want to open your email messages.
After you show your subscribers that they can get useful information from you and connect with them, only then you can send them your affiliate offers, but only occasionally.
Treat your subscribers as human beings, provide value in your emails, and they will become your fans.
E-books are a great way to build reputation and strengthen engagement with your audience.
Apart from having good content for your e-book, creating one is relatively easy. You can write your content in some writing software and then convert it to e-book format. Check some free programs for this conversion.
Once you wrote your books, they can be distributed in several different ways.
For one, you can sell them on Amazon Kindle. There is also the option to list your book for free for the first 5 days after publishing.
You can also give them away for free to your readers, in exchange for their email address.
No matter how you distribute them, there are always places in your books to put affiliate links.
Since they provide lot of value from start, why not ask something in return from your readers, like going to a website through your link.
Of course, you have to explain benefits of these affiliate products in your book before pointing readers towards them.
All in all, e-books are a great way to distribute your affiliate links, as long as it doesn’t feel forced.
If you don’t know what webinar is, it is basically combination of seminar and video, that is streamed online.
They can be live streams, or pre-recorded videos and they are broadcasted at certain, pre-set time. They are usually longer than one hour.
In order to get some people to join your webinar, you have to have some audience already that will be interested in this type of communication.
You can also team up with other bloggers, which already have big audience, and that way expose yourself to greater circle of people.
Webinar is announced at least a week ahead, so that people have time to see and join it. You can also save recorded version and share it with people who follow your blog, since not everyone will be able to be at their computer, at that exact time.
At the end, and during the webinar, you can tell people where to look for products that you mention in your video.
Webinars are the best! If you spent an hour talking to someone and giving them huge value, you can easily point them to the affiliate product and expect enormous conversion rate.
If you are new to the blogging world, focus on creating a website first and learning about affiliate marketing, and later you can look into webinars and how to make money off of them.
Link placement summary
That’s pretty much it about affiliate link placements; let’s quickly sum up this section. Places to post your affiliate links are:
- Your blog – Multiple places (super important)
- YouTube videos – in description (very important)
- Forums (low importance)
- Social media (good, but occasionally)
- Email (Important for traffic and engagement, not affiliate links)
- E-book (great for affiliate links)
- Webinar (king of affiliate links)
That would be all for affiliate link placements. I’m sure there are more good places to put your links, that I left out and if you have some ideas, leave a comment below.
Now that you have good understanding of how affiliate marketing works, let’s talk about the proper way to do it. I will also give you some advice that will keep you in the game for the long time.
Proper ways to do affiliate marketing
We’ve talked about how spamming is bad, but I just want to mention it one more time, because no matter how good content you have people will hate you if you shove it in their face.
Now that we buried spamming, let’s talk about what are the ingredients of proper affiliate marketing.
I’ll just mention them briefly here, and everything will be explained in detail below.
Proper affiliate marketing consists of:
- Marketing only products that are legit
- Writing honest reviews
- Affiliate disclosure
- Link cloaking
- Having nice-looking and fast website
- Having social media presence
- Connecting with your readers
Market only legit products
This segment of affiliate marketing is crucial for long-term success and creation of “passive income”.
When I started this blog, I found various affiliate programs that offered great commissions and they were are very popular among affiliate marketers. But they had one flaw, and that is they are scams!
I figured, if I can use them to make some money quickly, that would be awesome. But then my stomach started to hurt, from guilt.
There’s no way I’m going to scam people in buying some crap! That’s not the way my parents raised me. I have principles!
And that is exactly what makes great affiliate marketers great, standing behind their products.
You may haven’t realized it yet, but the job of affiliate marketer is the same as the job of salesman. Think about it.
The salesman goes from door to door, or makes cold phone calls. His job is to convince people to buy a product of his company.
That is also your job. Convincing people to buy products.
The number one rule of successful salesman is to sell only products they believe in. That way, they will have more confidence when they are talking to customers, and more confidence means more chance of closing the deal.
If we draw a parallel with affiliate marketing, believing in products you promote will drive you to make better posts on your blog and it will increase percentage of people that will buy the product.
So, how do you know if a product is legit, or not?
If you’ve used the product by yourself, you will know if the product is legit. But even if you didn’t, you can still promote it, but not before you do some research about it.
If you want to try some digital product, but you don’t have money to buy it, contact that website and tell them that you want to promote their product, but you want to try it first.
The more successful your blog is, the better the chance of getting that free account. It may even work for new websites; you have to try it.
If you don’t get that free account, there is still way to find if that product is legit, and that is Google search. Go to Google and search for reviews of that product.
But, watch out for affiliate reviews. If a blog owner is linking to product site with affiliate links, you may dismiss that review immediately. If they put regular links to products, then they may be trusted.
But don’t trust just one person. Read at least 10 reviews without affiliate links before making your judgment.
There is another benefit of reading lots of reviews. As you read other bloggers’ reviews, you will learn more about the product and you will get the idea about what to write in your own review.
I encourage you to test all the products that you plan on promoting, it is the best option.
Write honest reviews
You chose a legit product to review, or multiple products to compare and you are ready to start writing your blog post.
If you only emphasize the good features of products and exclude the bad ones, people will know that you wrote a biased review.
No matter how good the product is, there are always some downsides like price, lacking in features, geographical restrictions, etc.
You have to tell the whole story, so that your readers know all the details. If they find something they don’t like and you recommended that product to them, you will lose valuable readership and your reputation will decrease.
If a product has some flaws, let your readers decide whether they are OK with it, or they won’t buy. If they hear the ugly side from you, you will gain their trust, and they will be much more likely to return to your website.
Affiliate disclosure means that you tell readers of your blog that you will make money if they purchased something through your links.
It is considered good practice and if you don’t do it you can get in trouble with authorities.
What you have to do is, in every post that has affiliate links, to write a sentence or two that tells people that some links in that posts are affiliate.
Link cloaking is an operation of hiding your affiliate links by creating redirects.
If you don’t know how to set redirects, contact me and I will be happy to help. It isn’t the same for every website, so there are no general guidelines.
Good-looking and fast website
If content on your website is great, but it looks something like this, nobody is going to read it. It’s 2019 and people love good-looking websites.
It is very easy to make beautiful website with WordPress. You just have to install some nice theme and most of the work is done.
The speed of your website is also very important. I use a2hosting mainly because of that.
Even the cheapest shared hosting plan is decently quick, because servers of this hosting provider are not that saturated, as those of some more famous hosting providers.
No matter how fast your hosting is, there is always one aspect that you can’t control, and that is the connection speed of your readers.
Social media presence
Being present on social media networks is a big plus for your brand. We talked about it earlier in this post and we will talk more about it later.
In correlation with proper way to do affiliate marketing, social media can’t be excluded. It is a must-have tool for every marketer and you must use them regularly.
Ease of access is the most important thing in today’s world. People usually visit 4 or 5 websites every day, on average. Regular people, not marketers.
By providing them with your content on a website they like to visit every day, like Facebook, you are creating stronger bonds with your readers.
Bottom line, social media presence is extremely important. Let’s move on!
Connect with your readers on a personal level
Other than on social media, you can strengthen relationship with your readers on your blog.
For starters, create an “About me” page that tells your life story or your business story. People love reading these pages and it can greatly beneficial.
When someone reads your story, you have just upgraded your friendship from level “complete stranger” to level “some cool guy from internet”. Of course, the story has to be good.
That is exactly the purpose of this page. Showing people that you are a human being that has personality and life.
People love blogs because there is a person behind it that is not untouchable, contrary to the big companies that have some cold representatives who don’t give a fuck about some John and his opinion.
Speaking of being untouchable, don’t be. If people want to contact you personally, make it easy to them. After all, you want your blog to succeed, right?
When you are just starting out, you don’t have millions of visitors a month and 10 employees. So, if someone sends you a message or comments on your blog post, take some time to understand their problems and work together to solve them.
Some of your readers might be confused about one part of your blog post. If you explain confusing part to them, they will feel connection with you and they will want to come back to your blog.
I am sure more items could be added to this list and if you have some suggestions post it in the comments below.
Now, let’s move to the big question – how to get people to your website?
How to drive traffic to your website?
There’s no point in creating a world-class blog if nobody is visiting it. You need to put some effort to get traffic to your website.
I’m going to tell you various different ways how to do it, but just basic information. Every method requires a detailed guide of its own.
Having more than one traffic source insures that you don’t lose all your traffic if something changes in that source. If Google decides to change its algorithm and kills your organic traffic, you can still rely on different sources.
If you don’t have thousands of dollars to pay for advertising, you can’t expect 100,000 monthly visitors, but if you keep growing your website that could happen in less than a year.
It isn’t always about the number of visitors, but rather about the quality of those visitors. I will explain in more detail below.
Enough chit-chat, let’s start.
Search engine traffic (SEO)
Visitors coming from search engines are most likely to read your posts and buy some products. This traffic source is the best.
But there is one drawback, and that is time that it takes to see some real traffic volume from SEO. Even if you know how to rank pages in Google, getting to top5 positions for some decent keywords takes months, even years.
No matter how difficult it might be to compete for ranking, this traffic source must not be neglected.
The reason why this traffic is so great is because people that are coming from search engines are searching for answers and you are the one that provides it.
If you give it your all when you write your content, it will rank eventually, by itself. But, there is a way to speed up that process and grab those high rankings.
Learning SEO is not easy and requires lot of learning and research. You can start by purchasing this book SEO 2017 and you can upgrade your knowledge from there.
Understanding some basic SEO, at least, will help you dramatically with growing of your website.
Traffic coming from social media sites is not as prospective as that coming from search engines, but it has some advantages.
Getting noticed on social media is much easier than getting eyeballs on Google. That is why you should invest some time to build social media following, in order to get some traffic to your website quickly.
At this moment, I think that Pinterest is the king of massive traffic, but others like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can bring significant amount of traffic, if used properly.
If you have a lot of free time, attack all of them, one by one. Learn how every one of them work and adapt your content to each one.
If you don’t have much time, pick one or two and learn all the ins and outs of those.
Gary Vaynerchuk has this great book, called Jab Jab Jab Right hook, that explains in detail how to use all of these social networks and much more. There are many pictures inside the book that show you practical examples of creating good content for particular social networks.
If you dive deep into social networks and build huge audience out there, you can drive traffic to every new post that you publish. Just notify your followers that you have a new post and boom, hundreds or thousands of people are coming to your site from single traffic source.
You can also share some of your older posts to your followers, because some of them haven’t read it, or they want to refresh their knowledge.
If you have any questions about social media networks, make sure to contact me.
An e-book for driving traffic? It may sound strange, but e-books can be a great source of high-quality traffic.
So, how to do it?
Well, first, start by writing a great book. Write your text with some word processor like Microsoft Word, or any other software, and then convert it to PDF file. It can be easily done with some tools from this list.
When you have your book ready to go, post it on Amazon Kindle and give it away for free for 5 days. You can get anything from few hundred to tens of thousands of downloads in those 5 days.
You will have links in that book that point to your website, and if people like your book they will usually visit your website. Of course, you will encourage them several times throughout the book to do that.
Traffic volume from this source may not be as big as from other traffic sources, but this audience will come to your website pre-boiled.
They had the chance to get to know you in your book, and if you left a good impression you earned their trust.
If you get good reviews on Kindle and set a decent price, people will buy your book in the future and it will keep bringing people to your website after those initial 5 days. Plus, you will make some money from the book.
YouTube is the best way to drive traffic in my opinion, and here’s why. It has all the attributes that makes the ideal traffic source: high volume, audience that needs answers and trustworthy audience.
It has around 23 billion monthly visits and everyone is using it. Growth opportunity is huge.
First-time visitors that come from YouTube are high-quality prospects. They already received some value from your videos and you established some sort of friendliness with them.
These people sought solution to their problem, you solved it and now they trust you. There is a very high chance that they will buy some products that you promote on your website, if you do everything right.
Prerequisite for growing your YT following is that you create high-quality, educational videos. You don’t have to have studio equipment to make good videos, because after all, good content is what matters.
There are thousands of youtubers who shoot videos on their phones and have big followings. Just focus on providing value to your viewers.
You should also do some research on how to rank your videos for certain keywords. Getting on top of YouTube search results is much easier than ranking on Google, but it still requires some learning.
If you don’t like standing in front of a camera, you can make animation video or video with slides. Those work fine, but showing your face to your viewers in is best for engagement.
“What should I talk about in my videos”, some of you might be wandering. Take your blog posts and turn them into videos, as simple as that. If your posts are big, separate them in 2 or more videos.
I’d suggest that you buy some used DSLR camera with video recording and a tripod, to get some professional-looking footage.
Learning how to shoot, edit and rank videos is a long process, but the sooner you start, the better. Fastest way to learn is through practice.
Quora is a forum-like website where people ask questions and anyone can answer. It covers every topic that you can think of.
You can search for questions that people asked in your niche, give meaningful answers that really help those who read and post a link to your website. Some people will click through to your website to see what else you have to say.
Great thing about Quora is that you can build reputation as a thought leader in your business space. Also, if you get a lot of “upvotes”, your answers will start going to the top of every question.
You can’t expect some major traffic to come from this website, but those who do can be considered as “warm” traffic.
Make this question answering on Quora your daily routine, with at least one or two answers every day. If you can do 10, even better!
Similarly to Quora, you can post meaningful comments on top blogs in your niche. People love reading comments after post and it is a good place to be.
Find blogs that allow commenting and linking to your website. Subscribe to their newsletter to be notified when new posts get published.
This way, you can be among the first to comment, and those first few comments get the most exposure.
But, don’t just comment for the sake of commenting! Read the entire article and post your opinion in at least 5 sentences. If you don’t have anything useful to add to that post, better don’t comment anything.
Also, don’t be too promotional. If you have the article on your site that will benefit the readers of that particular post in some way, post a link to it with detailed explanation why you posted it.
Avoid sentences like: “go to my website”, “visit my page”, “check out my website”, etc. This will create bad image about you.
I don’t post my links at all in blog comments, only link to my homepage. I will let readers decide if they want to visit my website, after reading my comment.
I’m sure that you can get a lot of high-quality traffic this way, but you must do it regularly. Find 10 blogs in your niche and become regular commenter.
Here is a great post from Neil Patel on that topic.
Few moments ago, we talked about subscribing to email newsletter of big blogs. That is exactly what you want to do with your blog.
But just because you allowed your readers to subscribe, doesn’t mean that they will do it. You need to create some incentive that will persuade them to trade their email address.
Easiest way to do it is to create a PDF version of that blog post and offer to them in exchange for their email address. It may sound silly, but people love having files on their own computer. If it is a long post like this, people will want to download it to be able to read it later.
You can also give away some e-book, free course, free trial for software, some secret tactics you use, etc.
In order to collect email addresses, you need an autoresponder like Aweber.
It allows you to send thousands of emails with single click, and you can also set up a welcome sequence, that will send scheduled messages to anyone who signs up to your email list. Inside of this software are tools to create forms that you will put on your website, where people can enter their name and email address.
Once you have your list of subscribers, you can send them a message every time you publish a new blog post.
Many of them will open your email and check your new piece of content.
Here are some tips to build engagement with your readers with email marketing.
Now let’s move to our last traffic source on this list.
If you have a lot of knowledge to offer to the world, you can contact similar blogs in your niche and ask them to publish your content on their site.
Guest blogging has many advantages and traffic is just one of them.
You will get some SEO boost from links that point back to your site. Also, you will build relationships with other bloggers in your niche and build your reputation.
Getting exposed to new audience will generate some traffic, but you can’t expect huge increase in visitors.
Here are some posts that will teach you more about this topic:
That’s about it when it comes to traffic. There are some other sources and tools that you can use to grow number of your site’s visitors, but this pretty much covers all the big ones.
If you have some suggestions, put it down in comments.
There’s only one more thing that I want to talk about, and that is how to grow your business.
How to grow your business and get some free time?
If you have a regular job, the first step would be to quit it, once your side income is bigger than your paycheck.
Even if you don’t have a job, getting everything done by yourself is time-consuming. That is why you must hire people to work for you and outsource some of your tasks.
When you start feeling that you are always behind on your schedule (you must have a schedule), try finding someone to help you with your business.
Some people suggest that you hire writers to create content for your website, but that will be the last thing I would outsource. I am sure that there are million writers that are better than me, but this is my website and I want my tone all over it.
I am going to list some mini jobs that you can delegate to other people.
1. Publishing your content on website – you will create content, but someone else will go to your site’s dashboard and publish this post for you. It may not seem like a big thing, but inserting all the text, images, links… Ahh you will see how painful this is when you publish your first post.
2. Social media profiles management – your assistant will post images and videos, reply to comments and messages and all the other work required.
3. Email filtering – When you grow your site, you will get tons of emails from your readers. You don’t want to read emails all day, do you?
4. Customer support – Similarly to email, your assistant will answer some simple questions that don’t explicitly require your opinion.
5. Finding good blogs to comment – If you ever did this, you know how boring this is. Having someone to find good commenting opportunities will save you a lot of time.
6. Proofreading – If you are not Stephen King, and you are not, you will make some mistakes when you write your content. It is good to have second pair of eyes to check your text.
7. Creating images for your posts – Every post needs images to look nice. But it is a time-consuming job, and someone other should do it for you.
There are many more tasks that you can outsource, and you will see what you can delegate to assistant as you get more experienced.
The main point is to do the stuff that you love doing, and outsource stuff you hate doing.
I thought that this post would be around 4000 words, but it turned out to be 3x bigger. WOAH!
I will conclude this post and write briefly about every section of it.
We talked about what affiliate marketing is and about each role in the system.
Then I explained how tracking works and how do affiliates get paid.
Tools required to become successful at affiliate marketing:
- Social media profiles
- YouTube channel
- Text-editing software
- Knowledge of PC and smartphones
- Time management
- Willingness to succeed
- Ability to trust people with job delegation
How to find perfect niche:
- What is niche
- Large vs small niches
- How to do niche research
- Digital or physical products
Where to put affiliate links:
- Blog posts
- YouTube videos
- Social media networks
Proper way to do affiliate marketing:
- Marketing only products that are legit
- Writing honest reviews
- Affiliate disclosure
- Link cloaking (explain redirects)
- Having nice-looking and fast website
- Having social media presence
- Connecting with your readers
How to drive traffic to your website:
- Social media
- Blog comments
- Guest blogging
And at the end we talked about how to scale business and get some free time for ourselves.
If you made it this far, congratulations. You are going to be successful.
If you want to ask me anything about this post, you can post a comment or send me a message on contact me page.
Thank you all for reading and check my other posts. You may learn something new.