7 Keys to Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers
Earning money through affiliate sales is a legitimate way to add income to your family budget. I have earned thousands of dollars each year since I learned these 7 keys to maximize affiliate commissions. That extra income has pulled my family through times of unemployment and illness. Although these tips do require an investment of time on your part, once you set them up, many of these actions go on to create passive income for months, even years, afterwards. These things work, and I urge you to try them out, tweak them, and then let me know your successes. Simply comment on this post or shoot an email to email@example.com to get in touch with me. On to the first tip!
1. Create Personalized Sidebar Ads
Let's be honest. Most banners, ads, and buttons that affiliate programs offer you are a bit boring. Some are even ugly. And it goes without saying that they are all the same. How can you make your sidebar ads stand out? The answer is to create your own, unique ads. You don't have to be a graphic designer to do this. Take a photo of the product in action, for example, your child using the toy or reading the book. Add the product name (and maybe the logo) and a call to action as a text overlay. Think of the way you make pinnable images for your blog posts. But do that for a static ad in your sidebar. Here's an example of a personalized ad I created and linked to my review. I have made hundreds of dollars from affiliate sales of this product.
See? it's nothing amazing from a graphic design point of view. But it's personalized and inviting. It works! Once you have your personalized ad, experiment with these ideas.
- link the ad to the product site with your affiliate link
- link the ad to your product review post which includes affiliate links
- include the ad at the bottom of a series of posts
- include the ad in your RSS footer (use the WordPress plug-in RSS Footer)
- upload your ad to a Tweet that includes your affiliate link
- upload your ad to a G+ post that outlines how you use the product
Whenever you are using affiliate links online, you must legally disclose them. Become familiar with the FTC guidelines (download PDF), and always comply. It's the law, and it's the right thing to do.
2. Promote with Pinterest in Mind
Just a few facts to set up the importance of Pinterest:
- The average pin is repinned 10 times.
- Pins send traffic months after they are originally pinned.
- Visitors to a site who come via Pinterest, spend more money than those coming from any other social media network.
How can you use the power of Pinterest to boost affiliate sales?
1. Create multiple pinnable images for your posts.
Most bloggers start each post with a very nice pinnable image. How about making two, three or more pinnable images for your post? Doing so means more variety on Pinterest and more potential visitors to your post.
Authentic affiliate marketing is showing the product in use today, two days later, and a week later. #hsinfluencers @jimmieaquick
2. Make pinnable images that tout benefits of the product.
Without sounding like a commercial, add some text onto your image that explains a benefit of the product, how you use it, or a quote from your child about the product.
3. Optimize your images for search.
Most pinners are lazy and will not go to a lot of trouble to edit the default description that comes up. So take the time to edit the alt or title fields of your images so that they say what you want them to say. You want to include keywords that shoppers would search for.
4. Link to your site or use affiliate links directly on Pinterest pins.
As of May 2016, Pinterest allows affiliate links on their platform. (Previously Pinterest would either strip out affiliate links on pins or show a warning when people click the pin.) So now you have two options. You can link an image directly to the shop with your affiliate link or you can link back to your own site that has affiliate links. There is a caveat, of course. Each affiliate program has its own terms and conditions. For example, Amazon does not allow affiliate links on Pinterest. In your Amazon account, you can add all the domains where you will use affiliate links. Besides your own domains, you are allowed to enter Facebook pages, YouTube channel, and Twitter accounts. And that's it. To avoid having your Amazon affiliate account revoked, be sure to follow the rules. If you are using affiliate links on Pinterest, you must disclose that in the pin description according to FTC regulations. Stay legal and ethical! On your own site, make sure your images are linked to the product with your affiliate links. People love to click links. Above all, don't miss the opportunity for affiliate earnings by mistakenly linking images to image files.
3. Capture Personalized Tidbits About the Product
One of the standard ways to drive affiliate commissions is the product review post. However, if you want to encourage sales, you need to share very detailed, very personal tidbits about the product. Mere mentions of a product probably won't entice readers to click through. You need to paint a vivid picture of the product and the benefits it provides.
- It demonstrates authenticity. You really use and love the product.
- It reassures the buyer that the product is high quality and a good fit.
Anyone can visit the product website to read about the features. Your blog readers want to know what you think about the product, how you use it, how your kids reacted. If you really are using the product (and that's always the best way to make affiliate sales), you have stories. The problem is remembering them when it comes time to write the post.
Solution: Record Keeping
You need a way to record all the tidbits so that when it's time to write a post, you have a wealth of material to work from. How you do that can vary according to your style.
- use Evernote
- use a spiral bound notebook
- use a magnetic notepad on the refrigerator
- stop and add a blurb to a running draft in your blog
The point is to capture the information when it happens so you don't forget. Here are things to take note of:
- what you expected the product to be like
- stories about when the package arrived
- questions or comments your children or spouse made about the product
- background stories that demonstrate a need for the product
- funny situations that happened while using the product
- how the product solved a specific problem in your life
- things you loved about the product, especially how it was better than you expected
- things you wished the product did or offered
- how you used the product with something else
- your future plans for the product
All along this path, be sure to take photos too. Those images, spaced out over the course of several days will look more authentic than a staged photo-shoot with the product. You can even share these tidbits as they happen via social media for a steady stream of authentic promotion. Then compile them all into your blog post.
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4. Change Your Mindset —Go Beyond a Single Product Review
You can write a single product review and possibly make a couple of affiliate commissions from it. But to maximize your earnings, you need to think of your affiliate relationship as just that — a long-term relationship with the company. You have loyal blog readers, random blog visitors, and followers on social media. How can you reach all of them with your product recommendation (and affiliate link)? You need a steady stream of authentic mentions. I don't mean constantly tweeting an ad with an affiliate link and screaming, "Buy! Buy!" That is not authentic.
- Authentic is showing the product in use today, two days later, and a week later.
- Authentic is sharing a funny story related to the product.
- Authentic is mentioning how much you love the product because it solved a problem today.
For a lot of these authentic mentions, you don't even include a link to the product. You are simply showing people that you truly use and love the product. (Because you do, right? If you don't, you are promoting the wrong stuff.) Instagram is the perfect place to do this! Then when your followers ask for more information, you have a perfect platform for sharing your affiliate link. And when your readers and followers finally see your product review, they know that it's legit and not merely a ploy to earn money on your part. Once you have a nice set of content about a particular product and are seeing affiliate commissions, you can guarantee the company will be eager to get a personalized email from you with ideas for furthering the partnership.
5. Move Beyond Product Reviews and Tap Into Evergreen Content
Product reviews are great; create them! But don't stop there. To really earn from affiliate commissions, you need to tap into the power of evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that is valuable today, tomorrow, next week, next month, even next year. It is helpful to a broader audience than those who might search for a product review. How can you use evergreen content to boost affiliate sales? Think beyond the product to a larger context. Come up with a topic that answers a reader's question or solves a reader's problem. And within the context of that helpful post, mention the product with your affiliate link. Here are some examples from the education niche to get your ideas flowing.
product: software that teaches keyboarding skills
- Ten Ways to Encourage Reluctant Writers
- Eight Life Skills Your Children Need
- Why Learning Typing is More Important Than Learning Cursive
product: mapping software
- Six Easy Ways to Include Geography in Your Lessons
- How to Plan Geography Lessons for a Semester
product: a fitness curriculum
- Five Reasons Your Family Needs to Exercise Together
- Best Ways to Get Preteens Away from Screens and On Their Feet
- How Physical Activity Helps your Children Do Better in School
In order for this tactic to work, you have to deliver real value. Readers can sense manipulation, so creating thinly veiled commercials will not work. Offer thoughtful solutions to your readers' problems and incorporate natural mentions of the product you are an affiliate for.
Bonus Evergreen Tip
Readers love printables. So create a free printable that relates to your topic. Make an attractive, pinnable image to promote that freebie, and include your affiliate links in the post. Voila! Your post is begging to be shared and visited.
6. Ride the Google Wave with G+ and YouTube
Did you know that videos from YouTube are 50 times more likely to be served up in search results than text content is? Did you know that links shared on G+ are indexed by Google in a matter of minutes and that G+ posts show up in search results? If you aren't using G+ or YouTube yet to drive affiliate sales, why not? If you are thinking about making the plunge into vlogging, there is no better time than now! Create videos to complement your text product reviews. Embed the videos into your posts and link the post in the video description field. Talking head videos or screencasts are the easiest ways to start. Video viewers have a short attention span, so don't bother with a long introduction. Jump immediately into your assessment of the product. Keep the pace fast and the length of the video short. I use Screencast O'Matic to create both kinds of videos (and you can easily switch back and forth within a single recording). This is my referral link. Share your product review and evergreen post links on Google Plus with a meaty introduction of at least 100 words. (If you drop a link without that long introduction, your post is not as likely to show up in search.) For more about how to post on G+, read this. And pin it here.
7. Repurpose Your Affiliate Content
You've worked hard to create product reviews and evergreen content with your affiliate links. You've made pinnable images, free printables, and maybe even YouTube videos. Now what? Most of the content you create can be repurposed several times over with sneeze pages. Sneeze pages are indexes that curate the best of your content centered on a single topic. Go back in your archives and dig it all out so your readers don't miss anything. Arrange the list in an attractive format with links to your product reviews and evergreen content.
- Annotate the list with brief descriptions or a Q&A format so readers know what each link holds.
- Or write the sneeze page as an article itself.
- Include the sneeze pages in your header navigation and/or sidebar.
- Share the sneeze pages on social media.
- Make pinnable images for the sneeze pages.
More Repurposing Ideas
- Periodically tweet old product reviews and evergreen content with affiliate links. (There are tools that can help automate this process. I use and love Edgar.)
- Pin old product reviews and videos to a new Pinterest board.
- Create a seasonal or niche Pinterest board related to the affiliate product. Drag that board to the top of your profile.
- Include your affiliate links (or content with affiliate links) in round-ups, and list posts.
- Ask your blogging buddies to share old product reviews and evergreen content via social media.