What is Affiliate Marketing?

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Becoming a part of an affiliate network is an excellent strategy for bloggers looking to up their current income or even just to begin actually making money from their blog. There are several options when it comes to affiliate marketing as well as strategies for making affiliate marketing work for you. Below we will discuss what is affiliate marketing, examples of affiliate marketing in blogging, affiliate strategies and some of the top affiliate networks to join.

So, What Is Affiliate Marketing All About?

Affiliate marketing is a strategy where an individual partners with a business in order to make a commission by referring readers or visitors to a business’s particular product or service. In the case of blogging, a blogger will become an affiliate of a selected company and make money from being an affiliate by placing a link, button or banner within a blog post that will lead the readers to that product or service.

Examples and Strategies

What does affiliate marketing look like when you’re a blogger? An example of this could be blatantly creating a post that is actually about the company you are affiliated with or you could deftly weave the product or service into a post that is on a related topic.

An example of going the blatant root? Let’s say you are a food blogger and one of the companies you are an affiliate of sells food processors. You can write an entire post about that food processor including:

  • Benefits
  • Capabilities
  • Recipes where the food processor could be utilized
  • Cost
  • Care instructions and more

Then you could include a button, link or banner ad that would take the reader directly to that product and they could order it based on your recommendations.

If you would like to take a more subtle approach, include a product or service from your company that relates into your blog post. For example, let’s say that you are a wine connoisseur and that is what your blog is based around. In any post that is enticing your readers to open up a good bottle of cabernet or what have you, it would be wise to embed an ad for a quality, easy-to-use wine opener, wine glasses or stoppers that keep the wine fresh.

Examples of Websites Using Affiliate Marketing

IMDB.com

The huge online movie database IMDb.com has information on thousands of films, actors, and producers. So there is a great opportunity to link out to merchants who can sell the items that are being researched on the site–specifically DVDs or streaming video.

On each movie page within the site, the right sidebar includes a link out to Amazon. This is done in an automated way as the link takes referrals to a search page within Amazon displaying results for the movie title or Actor.

HuffingtonPost.com

Many bloggers also happen to have published more traditional collections of their writings, which allows for some affiliate marketing opportunities within any of their online pieces. Specifically, affiliate links to online retailers can be included as part of an author’s articles or blog posts.

TopTenSelect.com

This popular product review site reviews different types of products and compiles them into comparison tables and top 10 lists. The site appears to be mainly funded by Amazon Associates.

Things to Avoid with Affiliate Marketing

Don’t write like a salesperson when featuring a product or service from a company you are an affiliate of or change the tone your readers are used to. Yes, you are in fact selling something, but your blog doesn’t suddenly have to turn into a commercial or take on a voice that may be off putting to your readers. Often, bloggers will talk about how the product or service was beneficial to them while it relates to the blog’s topic.

Another thing to avoid would be to display a banner or button in the post in a way that doesn’t make sense or that doesn’t seem to relate to the post. Give some sort of introduction to the product or a lead that particularly relates to the service so that its appearance on your blog will flow seamlessly.

Making Money as an Affiliate

How exactly does an affiliate make money? An affiliate’s payment is based off of commission from the company they are an affiliate of. The buttons or banners of the products you are trying to sell contain your unique user ID when you embed the HTML into your blog that makes the ad appear. When the user clicks that ad and chooses to buy the product, the company will be alerted that you were the affiliate that led them to that purchase. As such, you will receive a commission from the company for being responsible in driving traffic and new customers to their website.

How do you get traffic to the products or services you are trying to sell?

  • Great Content: Make your posts engaging and offer a lead that will capture readers attention and make them want to read on and learn more about the product or service.
  • Practice effective SEO techniques: Just as with any blog post, utilising good SEO strategies and driving traffic from search engines can be a good source of quality traffic.
  • Upsell: Upselling is a sales technique where the salesperson encourages a more expensive purchase by a customer by persuading them to get an upgraded version of an item or to purchase add-ons. Remember our food processor example? That food processor could probably be best used with a book of recipes, which also can be purchased at the same company’s website
  • Promote products you would buy: Do you have zero interest in an expensive mountain bike the company you are an affiliate of sells? Well, you probably don’t want to feature it on your blog, as it is extremely difficult to persuade readers (or anyone for that matter) that they should buy something you wouldn’t be caught spending a single penny on. When you are passionate about a product or–at the very least–interested in learning more about it, this will come through to your readers, engage them and better coax them to buy

Examples of Affiliate Networks

There are several options when it comes to joining an affiliate network. It would be also be wise to join several, so that you have a variety of products and/or services at your disposal to write about and a wealth of commission.

Here are just a few that have been of great benefit to me over the years:

  • Amazon Associates
  • CJ Affiliate
  • ShareASale
  • ClickBank

If you’re interested in learning more about these affiliate networks then you might want to check out my in-depth comparison of the top affiliate programs.

Further Resources on Affiliate Marketing

  • How Affiliate Marketing Works – Rae Hoffman (SugarRae) has a great visual explanation for how the affiliate marketing process works, from the initial signup to getting paid.
  • Affiliate Marketing 101: Learning the Lingo – This glossary by Affiliorama gives a good rundown of the jargon you’ll come across in the affiliate marketing industry.
  • What to Do When “All of the Good Ideas are Already Taken” – Pat Flynn from SPI has some great insights into a common frustration for affiliates
  • The Rise of Dr. Ngo – This multi-part series from Charles Ngo is one of the most honest, in-depth accounting of an affiliate marketer’s successes and failures. Getting through all eight parts will take you a while, but is absolutely worth your time.
  • Affiliate Marketing 101 – Ahmad Ben is documenting his journey from the 9-5 to becoming a full time internet marketer. His post on Affiliate marketing is a great primer for beginners.
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Jamie

My name is Jamie Spencer and I have spent the past 5 years building money making blogs. After growing tired of the 9-5, commuting and never seeing my family I decided that I wanted to make some changes and launched my first blog. Since then I have launched lots of successful niche blogs and after selling my survivalist blog I decided to teach other people how to do the same.
4 Comments
  • Ahmad Ben
    Posted at 20:23h, 06 March Reply

    A great little post on affiliate marketing here. I myself am in the affiliate marketing space but wasn’t aware that websites like IMDB and the huffington post use affiliate marketing. I’ve learnt something new today! :-)

    I believe affiliate marketing is by far the most popular and can also be the most lucrative business model out there. So many positives to it that make it stand out compared to other traditional business models, like franchising for example.

    • Jamie
      Posted at 20:30h, 06 March Reply

      Thanks Ben. I agree with you 100%. It’s an unsung art form that a lot of people bypass. Their loss is our gain. ;)

  • Tim @ Food Processor Reviewer
    Posted at 06:31h, 27 April Reply

    I have just entered in affiliate marketing and struggling at the moment. But the perks have motivated me to actually keep pursuing and hopefully I will share the results in a year with you.

    • Jamie
      Posted at 09:02h, 27 April Reply

      Good to hear it Tim. Keep us posted with your progress.

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