** Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular and profitable ways to monetise your blog. Learn how to write great posts that will help you to earn money here! **
Hello and welcome to another hit of Blogging 101!
Today’s post is going to get real. We’re going to peel back the glossy, “I do it because I love the craft” side of blogging to reveal the monetary aspect – and I’m going to share with you some of the things that bloggers really rarely talk about.
Namely, how to monetise specific posts or write posts that are solely intended to earn you some extra bucks using affiliate marketing.
Now, this process for me has been very “hit or miss”. (And, let it be said, more often that not . . . it’s a miss.) I mean, if you try looking it up on Google, or scrolling through all the tips posts on Pinterest, all you seem to find is a bunch of really vague advice that actually tells you nothing. You find all these posts claiming to impart wisdom – but once you’ve read them you come away with absolutely nothing.
So I figured that I would try to change that. This is just me sharing tips about what’s worked for me, so that you might be able to get it to work for you.
To show you that I do, in fact, practice what I preach I’m going to show you a little screen-cap of my Nov-Dec earnings on one of my affiliate programs (that being Amazon.com).
Note: I’m a lifestyle blogger – and a lazy one at that. Lots of bloggers in other niches (especially niches that are more expensive, like photography and technology, for example) will earn a lot more.
First of all, though – welcome to to my weekly series Blogging 101! I share blogging tips on Wednesdays. If you haven’t caught up on class yet, here’s what you’ve missed:
- How To Improve Old Posts To Significantly Increase Traffic
- 20 Interesting Ways For Bloggers To Collaborate
- Step By Step: How To Convert Your Hosted Blog To Self-Hosted (WordPress.Com to WordPress.Org)
- Why Your Blog Needs Google Search Console + 10 Great Ways To Use It
- Starting From The Bottom – 10 First Steps For Beginner Bloggers
- 19 Great Web-Page Design Inspirations From Emails
- 8 Things I Learnt Converting From WordPress.com To WordPress.org
- How To Create FREE Blog Infographics
- Why You Need A Blogging / Editorial Calendar + FREE CALENDAR
- How To Gain Genuine Page & Site Views // Blogging 101
- How To Slay Your Blog Design and Branding
- 15 Easy Things You Can Do To Improve and Perfect Your Blog
- Blogging Networks for Brand Collaboration and Sponsorship Opportunities
- How To Earn Money Through Blogging For Big, Small and New Blogs
- Blogging Habits For Better Blog Growth
- How I Used Amazon To Earn My First Cheque
Table of Contents For This Page
- What Is Affiliate Marketing?
- Affiliate Marketing Programs I Love
- The Best Posts For Affiliate Marketing
- Writing Monetised Posts Without Becoming A Soulless Corporate Robot That All Your Followers Hate
- My Top Tips For Affiliate Marketing
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a commission based sales scheme wherein you promote a company’s products and, when someone purchases them after being directed to them by you, you earn a percentage of the sale.
Typically, different shops and products or services have different commission rates. Amazon, for example, currently runs on a volume based commission scheme. The more you sell, the higher your commission rate becomes. Services like WPHost (a hosting platform) have a flat sign up-commission of $100, I believe. Other shops will have their individual commission ratings.
Pin this post for me, so you can come back and read it whenever you need a hit of inspiration. And, y’know, more people will find my site and . . . I want that.
Affiliate Marketing Programs I Love
Okay, so you have two types of affiliate programs. One being an individual website’s affiliate program and the other being a platform that hosts a lot of merchants.
My favourite platforms are:
Across these platforms are some of my favourite merchants – Esty, TKMaxx, ASOS, Lastminute.com (yes, guys, I can sell holidays!), Romwe and more!
The great thing about these platforms is that, once you’ve signed up for them, you can actually browse them like catalogs for new shops to sell for.
The Best Posts For Affiliate Marketing
The next thing we’re going to cover are the best posts for affiliate marketing. The important thing to remember about affiliate marketing is that you only get paid when someone makes a purchase. Now, to me this means two things:
- You either need to convince people to buy items.
- Or you need to get in front of people that want to buy items.
Let me expand on this a little. So you can either use your blog posts as a way of selling goods to people (route 1) or you can provide goods to people that they’re already looking for. For me, because I’m lazy, typically my monetised posts fall into number 2.
In particular, I write gift guides. So when people land on my gift guides it’s because they’re looking for gifts to buy people – I don’t have to convince them to buy a product; I just have to position one in front of them. (There is a big tip I have coming up for you on affiliate marketing later on in this post that relates to this!)
25 Affiliate Post Ideas
- Comparing Products
- Offering alternatives to products
- Answering questions about products
- Gift guides
- Targeted curation posts
- Tool round ups (for example: “My 10 Blogging Tools That Make My Life Easier)
- Create a how-to featuring a product
- Building on this, you could create a DIY using materials you’re an affiliate for
- “Why I Love _____”
- Solving a problem using a product
- Sharing one of your top tips using a product – so, for example: if you’re affiliate marketing social media tools, you could write a blog post along the lines of “My Top Tips For Getting To 10k On Twitter”
- Share a case study!
- Before and after photos!
- Favourites posts
- Kits posts. By this, I mean things like “Everything you need in a basic make-up kit” or “What A Learning Photographer Needs In Their Bag”
- Seasonal posts based on holidays. “34 not terribly disgusting Christmas jumpers.”
- Seasonal posts based on seasonal events – things like “Back To School Essentials”
- List posts
- Reviewing sites and their quality – “Is ___ a scam?”
- Viral posts (so things that you can imagine being shared a lot – Pinterest is a good example of this)
A quick tip here: although things like gift guides do exist, they are incredibly hard to rank for. I would argue that for most bloggers they’re probably better used as a way to earn from an existing audience as opposed to a way to earn a lot of money unless you get a stroke of luck.
I would most definitely chalk my success with Gift Guides up to luck – I’ll explain a little bit more in my affiliate marketing top tips below, but unless you have a large audience to leverage I wouldn’t expect them to be a massive earner unless you can find one that hasn’t been done already and is highly sought out.
It’s also important to remember that you can be an affiliate for any number of things. Hotel websites, for example. So while these examples are a little on the vague side, you can use them for spring-boards. Remember, you’re either selling things (so I’d say reviews and “my essentials” posts are examples of this) or you’re positioning things that people already want in front of them (so targeted curation posts are an example of this – if somebody is searching for “goth phone cases” and finds your curation post “20 Cute Goth Phone Cases“, you’re positioning something they want in front of them).
Where Can I Find Inspiration For Affiliate Posts?
How many times have you scrolled through Pinterest, found something and immediately morphed into Gollum, clutching at your debit card and stroking the screen whilst hissing “my precious“?
Just me? Well, okay then.
Well, I almost guarantee that these things you love finding on Pinterest are either directly being sold or they’re affiliate links.
Look at this gorgeous image I just stole off Pinterest. (The source is here, by the way, because I don’t want to actually steal it.)
Now, this image is from a blog post – maybe it’s a blog post dedicated to blush velvet furniture; doesn’t matter. I stumbled across it on Pinterest, fell in love and decided “hey, I really want to buy that sofa”. I then clicked the link, found the affiliate link on the blog page and bought the sofa.
Obviously, I didn’t because I don’t have my own house to do such a thing, but that’s how it goes for a lot of people. So looking on Pinterest for the sort of content that catches your eye and makes you want to buy is a great way to get some inspiration for the sort of content you can create.
2. Scrolling through merchants
Another way to gain some affiliate post writing inspiration is to sign up to some of those affiliate platforms and scroll through sites that are available. In a way, it’s like scrolling through catalogs – you flick through and find all these beautiful outfit and room layout ideas that you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Scrolling through all these merchants you can find some really cool sites that you wouldn’t have previously considered. An example of this is my list post: 101 Fun and Unique Date Ideas (I really love that post; check it out if you haven’t already.)
My inspiration came through scrolling the shops on Affiliate Window and finding loads of cool experience programs (like lastminute.com). From there I thought: “hmm . . . I could write a post about cool experiences and affiliate market using that“.
There is such a wide variety of products and services that you can find to sign up for that there’s endless bounds of inspiration just waiting to be found.
3. What things are YOU searching up?
This is the tip that I credit all of my to-date earnings to.
One year, I couldn’t decide what I wanted for Christmas, so I looked up “teen girl gift ideas” and . . . nothing. (This was a few years ago, by the way. It’s now saturated by big companies like Seventeen and Boots. Bastards.)
So I decided to write one. Little fetus Mia knew nothing of SEO; nothing about affiliate marketing and, to be honest, didn’t expect absolutely anything to come out of it other than a comment or two from her blogging besties. (Miss you, Alex and other random bloggers who I can’t quite remember because we didn’t quite make it to the Skype and social media level!)
What actually happened is that, due to the lack of competition, Google gobbled the post up, chucked it on the front page and my post got 300,000 views in the first three months it was up. Why? Because other people were searching it too.
Take a note of what you’re typing into Google – and what’s coming up blank. We’re never alone in the world, there’s always someone else that will be looking for the same things and you’ve just found a secret sweet spot.
4. Other blogs
Don’t fucking steal content.
There is honestly nothing more sleazy, annoying and shitty than stealing someone’s content. People often underestimate how much time and work goes into blogging – but here’s a hint: most of my long or useful posts are drafted a month before they see the light of day.
So don’t steal other people’s content – but gain inspiration from it.
If there’s a blogger you love that always writes amazing curation posts about the latest trends you’re loving before you even realise you’re knee-deep in loving it – maybe you could try writing wishlists based on trends.
Writing Monetised Posts Without Becoming A Soulless Corporate Robot That All Your Followers Hate
I feel like this is really important. Blogging is about building up your little community; about being creative and sharing your passions with the world.
It’s not about exploiting an unsuspecting audience and sucking them dry like a conscience-less internet vampire.
That’s only a good look on Marceline and, honey, we ain’t no Marcelines.
[Tweet “Blogging is not about exploiting an unsuspecting audience and sucking them dry like a conscience-less internet vampire”]
Although making money off your blog is amazing and totally okay – don’t do it at the detriment of your audience. Here are a few ways you can slip in your affiliate links without compromising the quality of your blog.
Optimise Old Content
Not only does this mean your audience are left alone – it also means you’re more likely to get more views on your article.
I’ve already written a post on how to rework old content to move it up in search engines and get more views – but you can also use this already-well-performing content to slip in some affiliate links.
(An example being: one of my best performing posts at the moment is 50 Party Themes for Teens; if I were to monetize this, I could link costumes or party decorations in there.)
How To Hide Your Monetised Posts So You Don’t Spam Your Followers
Here’s a biggie that I use – but I will admit that it comes with a few drawbacks.
If you set the publish date of a blog post to the past, or you edit an old post that nobody looks at anymore and change the URL, you can write monetised content to your heart’s content without pissing off your audience.
This is great if you have a big social audience to leverage or you know how to rock that Search Engine Optimisation – but you won’t get that immediate boost that you would when releasing a new post.
Add Links In Organically To Quality Content Posts
Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to convince yourself that “my audience cares about 50 different types of pillows” because you found a cool new pillow merchant. You might think – “but I can make a whole room design edit on it!” or “but everyone loves a good pillow!” then lo and behold . . .
Your audience doesn’t care.
Once or twice, maybe. If they like you and your style and you can put a fun or creative spin on it, sure. In among other quality content? Definitely. But constantly, with no breaks? Then they stop engaging with your content, their eyes wander and . . . now your once large audience is now an empty room that your wails of despair echo in.
So don’t do it! Add subtle links in to your quality content! An example? Look at this photo.
This is a pretty generic photo in the sense that you could use it in a Blogging Tips post, or a Storytime about the time you broke out of your school to go to the beach (didn’t happen, but it’s an example) – so how can you make money off of it?
Look at all the cute objects in the photo. There’s a plant, a stylish rock (never thought I’d type that), a letter and a block. Under your images, you can link to the products you’ve used in them. It’s subtle, non-invasive and it only enhances your content – it doesn’t take it over.
(And it makes a great image for you to share on Pinterest!)
Top Tips For Affiliate Marketing
I know that by now you feel like I’ve stolen your soul and kept you here for years. You miss the sun – the light; the warmth on your face.
Well, suck it up a bit longer – we’re at the last leg of the race.
Finally, to round off this mammoth post, I’m just going to share my top tips that I’ve gathered from my past few years of trial and error with blogging.
1. Use high-quality websites.
This is big for a few factors.
If you’re advertising some shifty, straight-from-China, grammatical-error-riddled site, it doesn’t matter if you’re getting 1,000 clicks a day – the conversion rates are going to be so minuscule that it won’t be worth the effort. This is especially true for posts that are utilise traffic from search engines.
If people find your site off of a search engine, in all likelihood they’ll have no idea who you are. There’s no trust and, unlike an existing audience, they don’t care about your opinion. So to convert them to a buyer, you need to be using high quality websites that they’re comfortable and familiar with – or at least introducing them.
2. Make sure you get click-throughs
I’ve spoken about cookies in the context of affiliate marketing here on the blog before.
Essentially, cookies are like little breadcrumbs users leave – “I’ve been here; I did this”. You know how you may casually flick through a site, add 100,000 things to your basket, realise you’re being absolutely absurd and depart – only to then be greeted with your choices in adverts everywhere?
Tracking cookies, man.
These are actually your friends. When someone clicks through a link on your blog to a site, you have a window of time in which the cookies are still active. (Amazon’s is a heart-breaking 24 hours while many other sites are 30 days – but Amazon has that conversion rate locked down.)
So get those click-throughs – because anything that anyone buys on a site you’ve directed them you while your cookies are active, you get a comission from.
(And think about how good this is for people that are selling more expensive goods, such as high end jewellery. Most of the time, people will leave, think about it for a week or two and come back. Because of these cookies, this decision process isn’t an issue – you still earn!)
3. Write monetised posts for search engine traffic, not your blog followers
This is part of not being a vampire, to be fair.
Writing SEO posts is honestly the biggest tip I can give you; it means that your blog becomes a form of passive income – once you’ve penned down a post, you down need to write another one to earn from it, do you? If your post is optimized for search, you’re far more likely to get eyes on it – and
4. Meet a need – meet your own needs
Remember my story about how I managed to land a lot of traffic because I created content I couldn’t find? (For those of you with short attention spans: gift guides.)
5. Find subtle ways to put affiliate links in
6. Place products that have affiliate earning potential in images
7. Monetise your most viewed pages
Okay, this post was . . . long. I hope you guys found some helpful information in here and that you all start to delve into affiliate marketing and earning yourself some cash for your hard work!
Let me know what you thought of this post and whether you might use it in the future in the comments below!
All the love,