Blog monetization is the goal for many bloggers, and with a variety of options to choose from, it’s not too hard to achieve. However, the process of turning your blog into a money-making venture can be overwhelming, especially when you’re working on multiple income channels at once.
To make the process simpler, it helps to focus on one monetization method at a time. One approach that’s fairly simple to get started with is affiliate marketing. This is a technique that enables you to earn money while also providing your readers with value and quality.
In this post, we’ll introduce you to affiliate marketing, including why it’s a great monetization method for bloggers to consider. We’ll then provide you with an easy, four-step process to get started, as well as four tips to help you implement affiliate marketing effectively.
An Introduction to Affiliate Marketing (And Its Benefits)
Affiliate marketing is one of many monetization methods, but one you should probably consider if you’re serious about turning your blog into a profitable venture.
This type of marketing is driven by two separate entities. The first is the merchant, whose products are being sold. They set up an affiliate program on their own site or through a network to recruit the help of others (affiliates) to sell their products. Second is the affiliate; they promote products that aren’t their own, earning a cut from resulting sales.
There are benefits on both sides of the equation, but let’s consider what you, the affiliate, would gain from this potentially lucrative business model. The main benefit is in the value you provide your readers. As an affiliate, you choose which products you want to promote.
This means you can carefully select only those products that you know your readers will want to know about. This puts you in a unique position, giving you the opportunity to establish yourself as an industry leader and trustworthy influencer.
In addition, affiliate marketing offers you flexibility. You can put as much time into your marketing efforts as you’d like, and you can grow your business with effort and dedication. This is excellent for bloggers who aren’t sure whether marketing is for them, because there’s no commitment or obligation.
How To Get Started With Affiliate Marketing (in 4 Simple Steps)
While the process can seem intimidating, it’s actually pretty simple to set up your affiliate marketing business. Let’s dig in!
Step #1: Choose Your Niche
A niche is a subset of an industry market. For example, within the health and wellness industry, there are niches such as fitness, mental health, and women’s health. Your niche will be your marketing focus.
This means you want to take the time to really narrow your options, eventually leading you to choose the topic that’s best for you. Selecting a niche is an essential step, because it helps you to focus on your target audience, and promote only those products that are useful for them.
If you’re already blogging, chances are you’ve found your niche and you can choose products aligned with your existing content. However, if you’re just started out or looking to change direction, here are a couple of ways you can narrow your options and find the right niche for you:
- Combine passion with profitability. You want to choose a topic that you’re interested in, but one which can also make you money. If you’re serious about making your blog profitable, there has to be enough interest in your subject to give it viable earning potential.
- Do your research. Before jumping in, be sure to research potential niches to find the one that’s a perfect fit for you. This means looking at established marketers, researching keywords (both for profitability and competitiveness), and getting a feel for affiliate product types.
It’s important to take your time at this stage. The niche you choose will have a significant impact on your business, so you need to take this step seriously.
Step #2: Research and Select the Best Affiliate Products
Your business can only be successful if the products you promote are worth recommending. That’s why research and selection are essential parts of the process.
As an affiliate, you have free reign over the products you promote. This is fantastic for your customers and your business. This is because you can be picky about your choices, and only promote the best products available.
If you’re having trouble finding the best affiliate products, here are a few tips:
- Choose products you use and love. This is the easiest method by far, as you already have a basic acquaintance with the products, including theirs positives and negatives.
- Choose products that other trusted bloggers use and love. Trusted bloggers have credibility for a reason – they take the time to choose products for their niche, and only promote those that are worth it. If you’re struggling to find affiliate products top promote, then check out some of your favorite blogs for inspiration.
- Read product reviews. Even if you’ve personally used a product and loved it, it’s good to take a look at the opinions of others. This can help you to determine whether it is truly worth promoting, or if the negatives outweigh the positives for many people. It will also enable you to give a more robust review of the product when the time comes.
- Check out affiliate networks. Networks like ClickBank and ShareASale have hundreds of affiliate products to choose from, and you may be surprised at the niche items you find while perusing these networks.
As your entire business will be built upon the products you recommend, you want to select only the best. This may mean only promoting a few products at a time, but quality is certainly better than quantity within this strategy.
Step #3: Create High-Quality Content
Affiliate marketing isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it business venture. Instead, it requires a lot of work and dedication, which includes the creation of high-quality content.
In relation to affiliate marketing, content might include things like review posts and videos, and tutorials for how to use a product. Whatever you create, each piece of material must be high-quality and something readers want to engage with and share. This can be a bit subjective, but there are a few universal things to keep in mind as you strive to create high-quality content:
- Make it original, valuable, and helpful. To stand out, you want to offer reviews, how-to articles, and other similar content that is unique and helpful to your readers. Convey your opinions in a professional manner but don’t be afraid to inject your own personality to make it truly unique.
- Make it actionable. This means engaging your audience, using relatable examples, and utilizing powerful calls to action. The latter might include requesting comments or asking readers to share on social media.
- Answer questions your audience is asking. Use Quora, Google Alerts, and other handy tools to find out what questions your audience has. Then, answer them!
The goal of high-quality content is to draw in your ideal audience, while also building authority. Quality content will do both, as well as help you to convert leads and increase sales.
Step #4: Build an Audience
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need to build a loyal following and learn to attract your ideal audience.
This isn’t the same as driving traffic in general; in fact, it’s much more important. That’s because your ideal audience is a targeted source of traffic. You can get a ton of visitors coming to your site, but only those who are part of your target audience will truly matter in terms of conversions and sales.
While building an audience is a broad step to take, let’s narrow it down to get you started off on the right foot.
- Know who you’re targeting. Create reader personas, frequent niche forums, and engage with your community. All of these will give you a better idea of who you’re targeting so you can work on building your following.
- Create content with them in mind. With your ideal reader in mind, it’s time to tailor your content just for them. It’s difficult at first, but write with one person in mind. This will help you to effectively narrow your writing, and attract only the readers that are right for you.
- Promote to them directly. Find out where your readers hang out, and then share your content with them there. This may mean posting on social media platforms or linking to your content within niche forums.
You won’t build a strong following overnight. However, the above three tips will set you on the right path and get you started attracting the audience that’s right for your business.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, we’ll move on to some tips that will enable you to hone your strategy and realize your monetization goals faster!
4 Tips to Help You Implement Affiliate Marketing More Effectively
It isn’t enough to set up your business. You now need to ensure that you’re running it as effectively as possible. Here are four tips to get you started!
1. Join an Affiliate Marketing Network
While it’s not necessary, an affiliate marketing network can provide you with ample opportunities for business growth.
ClickBank is just one example of an affiliate marketing network you can join.
Simply put, affiliate networks are those that put publishers (affiliates) in contact with merchants. This can be beneficial for a number of reasons, including less risk (as many networks screen their merchants) and lots of opportunities in one place (as networks work with hundreds of merchants at a time).
Before you jump in, it’s important to know how to find the right network for you and your business. You have two main options:
- General networks. These include companies like CJ Affiliate, Amazon Associates, ClickBank and ShareASale, and are a great place to start whatever your niche.
- Niche-focused networks. While many of the general networks are easy to categorize by industry, sometimes a niche-focused network will be more in line with what you’re looking for. MoreNiche is an example of a health niche network, but you can simply search for “affiliate network” + “your niche” to find others.
Even if you use a network, it’s important to read affiliate policies carefully. Each program is different, so it’s vital that you get a feel for it – and understand its policies – before signing up.
2. Put Relationships First
As an affiliate marketer, you’ll soon learn that credibility comes before all else. It’s vital for your readers to place their trust in you, and that’s why relationships must come first.
Neil Patel interacts with his readers regularly, building relationships and trust.
Unsurprisingly, credibility directly impacts conversion rates. The more trust that your readers place in you, the higher the odds they’ll purchase through your site. This makes it quite obvious that trust and relationships are necessary for a successful affiliate business, and you should strive to improve both continually.
Fortunately, with honest practices and genuine interactions with your customers, trust isn’t too difficult to gain and relationships aren’t too hard to establish. Here are a few tips you can use to get started:
- Make every impression a first impression. First impressions matter, but to continue to build trust, so does every impression afterwards. When interacting with your readers, keep this in mind and always put your best foot forward.
- Be approachable. Make it easy for readers to contact you. This could be through a contact page, a sidebar form, or a social media profile link.
- Don’t take every sales opportunity that comes your way. Obviously, you shouldn’t turn down any direct sales requests. However, it’s important that you interact with your readers on a regular basis without pitching to them. This means offering genuine advice, answering questions, and getting to know them on a personal level.
When writing site content, interacting on social media, or choosing a product to promote, keep your relationship with your readers in mind at all times. This will help you make the best decisions you can for your readers and, as a direct result, for your business.
3. Write Reviews and Tutorials
As an affiliate, it’s your job to promote your product while still providing your audience with well-researched and truthful content. That’s where reviews and tutorials come in.
Reviews, such as this one seen on Beauty Junkies Unite, enable you to provide your audience with tremendous value.
These content pieces are essential to your affiliate strategy, and will persuade visitors to make purchases through your links.
If you’re ready to offer your very best reviews and tutorials, keep these tips in mind:
- Be honest. Nothing is perfect and your readers know this. When reviewing products, be sure to be completely genuine. Your readers can tell the difference between a true review and a shameless product plug.
- Be thorough. For example, what did you like? What did you not like? What could be improved upon?
- Use different media formats. Videos, images, and slideshows are great additions to any review. They enhance the content by offering more depth, and enable you to mix it up and provide a unique and fresh look at the product you’re promoting.
In the end, reviews and tutorials contribute to your goal of high-quality material, and provide your readers with valuable content to refer to.
4. Get Involved on Social Media Platforms
Social media provides marketers with a great opportunity to gain a following, as well as promote their products.
Liza Herlands of Brewed uses social media to connect with her followers and promote her business.
The various platforms enable you to connect with your readers easily and casually. You can share your latest content, host live chats, or just have an informal discussion.
To participate on social media isn’t enough. You also need to know how to do so effectively. Here are two ways to begin:
- Find the right platform(s). You need to know where your target audience is most active, and concentrate on those platforms. To begin, consider target audience demographics.
- Optimize your content. This means creating infographics and other long-form visuals for Pinterest, or writing short, attention-grabbing messages for Twitter.
You don’t need to spend countless hours on social media to see positive results. In fact, just a few scheduled hours per week will provide you with the connections you seek, and enable you to market your affiliate products more effectively.
There are plenty of ways you can monetize your blog, including display ads and sponsored posts. However, affiliate marketing is a monetization method that has gained traction and for good reasons. One of its major benefits is it gives bloggers the chance to earn a living while still providing value to their readers.
In the above post, we introduced you to affiliate marketing, including how to get started and how to implement your strategy effectively. Let’s quickly recap the steps you need to take to get going:
- Choose a niche.
- Research and select the best affiliate products.
- Create high-quality content.
- Build an audience.
Do you have any questions about getting started with affiliate marketing? Let us know in the comments section below!