Affiliate marketing is one of the most profitable ways to earn money from your blog.
A lot of beginner bloggers rely on ad networks like Google AdSense and Chitika to generate revenue. But soon they realize that they are making only a few dollars every month from these sources.
It takes a substantial amount of traffic to make a little bit of money from ad networks. However, if you have a smaller, focused and high-spending audience, it is possible to make a lot of money (even replace your full-time income) with affiliate marketing.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a pay-per-performance model, where you have an agreement with an online business that you get paid every time someone you refer buys their product. Your sales are tracked through an affiliate link.
Why affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is one of my favorite ways to make money from my blog.
Do you need a blog to be successful in affiliate marketing? Maybe not.
I haven’t made money without a blog though, so in my case, I used a blog to make money from affiliate marketing. There are many advantages with a blog like putting your marketing on autopilot and making money while you sleep.
However, there are people with substantial social media followings and large mailing lists who don’t use a blog but primarily use social media and their mailing lists to sell affiliate products.
I am a believer in starting and growing your blog because a blog is an asset you own and is under your control, while a social media page is not entirely under your control, social media companies like Facebook can change the rules of the game at any time which can adversely impact your business.
Here are my reasons why affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money from your blog:
#1 You don’t need to have a product or a service
Many bloggers spend months or years creating a product, and when they finally launch, they realize nobody wants to buy their product.
As an affiliate, you are promoting someone else’s product, so you get to choose a product that has good traction, is liked by your audience, and something that people will anyway buy.
#2 Tried and tested creatives
Many good companies that pay affiliates to refer their product have been in the market for a long time and have spent years testing their sales copy and creatives. You don’t have to design creatives, email swipes, or even write social media updates; most of it is already done for you.
Some companies even have training programs that help you learn affiliate marketing.
#3 High commissions on top products
Some companies pay their affiliates anywhere from 30% to 50% of every sale. Some of them are recurring commissions, which means you get paid until your referral stays a customer.
You get to choose a product that is a brand name and is already trusted in the marketplace. If you are building your own product, it can take a lot of time and money to build trust.
Here is a step-by-step process to become a successful affiliate marketer:
Step 1: Choose a target audience
I hear people say, “My target market is everybody.” Well, a wise marketer once said, “If your audience is everybody, then it is nobody.”
A target audience is a group of people with similar interests and characteristics. The most accessible target audience is someone just like you. It’s much easier to connect with people who are just like us. The best recommendations are products that have worked for us.
Most of the products I recommend are products that I have used. So, I have first-hand experience of how a product can benefit someone.
Step 2: Choose a topic for your blog
People ask me “how do I choose a topic for my blog?” Ask yourself the questions, “What am I an expert on?” Or, “What is the topic I want to be an expert on?”
You may not be an expert on your chosen topic. But you only need to know a little bit more than your audience.
Many people think they are not good enough to write about a topic. But remember, a second grader can teach a first grader. For example, if you are a new parent, some of your topics may be basic information for someone who has given birth to two or more kids, but it could be useful to someone who hasn’t given birth to a kid.
Things that may seem obvious to you may not be that obvious to your audience. Your blog posts should show the way for people who are trying to travel the path that you’ve already traveled, so that they learn from your mistakes, and don’t make the same mistakes you did.
Step 3: Research to identify if this topic can be profitable (make you money)
Just because you are an expert at something, does not mean that your blog will make you money. Having a high traffic blog and making money from it are two different things.
How can you guesstimate if your blog will make you money?
Research and find out if there are high paying affiliate programs. What does high paying mean? You should get a commission of at least $50 per sale.
Then, go to Google keyword planner and search for keywords related to your topic. Look at the column ‘average monthly searches,’ can you find 10 to 20 keywords with a minimum search volume of at least 10k each. Ideally, you’d want the keywords to have low to medium competition. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t target keywords with high competition, but when you are starting off, I suggest sticking to low competition high volume keywords.
Another test you could do to guesstimate if your blog will make money is to research your competition and find out if anyone else is making money with a similar blog.
All these are not foolproof ways of identifying if your blog will make money, but they give you an intuitive feel.
Step 4: Identify affiliate programs you want to promote
Once you’ve chosen your topic, identify affiliate programs you want to promote. Ideally, you want to pick programs that pay $50 or more per sale. If it’s a recurring commission, then it’s even better.
The best products to promote are the ones that you’ve used yourself. That way, you’re able to give your audience firsthand account of your experience.
Most readers are looking to avoid making mistakes; that’s the reason they are reading reviews and recommendations from experts like you.
If you are doing a review, its best to list the pros and cons of the product, how the product benefitted you, and why someone should use that product.
Comparison between products could be another type of blog post.
My favorite type of blog posts are:
- Reviews: What you thought about a product? It’s pros and cons!
- Comparison between products
- Problem – Solution posts (How-to posts): How a product solves a problem? Example: How to find profitable keywords with low competition?
- Discount codes: Everyone loves a deal. You are promoting coupons that saves your readers money.
- Interview with experts. You could interview a well-known expert in your field and use affiliate links to promote some of her recommended products.
Step 5: Brainstorm blog post ideas
Now that you have a list of at least ten keywords and a list of affiliate products to promote, it’s time to brainstorm some headlines for your blog post. The headline should contain the keyword. You want headlines for your first ten blog posts.
Once your headlines are ready, prepare an article outline for each blog post. Then, go ahead and write your article. Try to write one article a day. But if you are a beginner, it’s okay to spend a couple of days on each article. The focus should be on quality rather than quantity.
Step 6: Putting together a budget
How much money should you spend on your blog? It’s important to be frugal in the beginning. You should never stretch beyond your means. If you have absolutely no money to start a blog; get a job or do some freelance work, save up some money, and be financially comfortable before you get started.
While you are saving up money; you could practice your writing and have a decent amount of content before you set-up your blog.
Here’s a typical no-frills budget to get started with blogging.
Capital expenditures (upfront investment)
- WordPress Theme: $125
- Hosting: $125 per year
- Domain: $9 per year
- Email marketing software: $10 per month
- Advertising: $50 per month to unlimited
Total expenses: $854 per year
I would suggest that you set aside at least $1000 for your blogging project before you get started.
How long does it take to make a good income from blogging?
Everyone is different. Some people start making money within four months of blogging but that’s the exception more than the norm, some never make any money at all, the broad consensus among bloggers is two years. You must be willing to put-In at least one hour a day consistently for two years before your blog sees any $.
Your first dollar target should be $1000 a month and aim to double it every year.
Step 7: Set-up your blog
Now, the exciting part. Setting up your blog. You are going to be live soon. Things are getting real. Let’s set-up your blog. Here’s a step-by-step article on how to set-up your blog?
Step 8: Build your list
People often ask, what’s more important? Your social media following or your email list?
The value of a brand today seems to be judged by their social media following.
Companies are paying influencers for branded content, especially on Instagram.
If you are not aiming to be a reality star but are looking to position yourself as an authority in your niche, then I believe that your email list is far more valuable than your social media following.
It’s now time to sign up for an email marketing software and start building your list.
I suggest Aweber. It is the preferred email marketing software for a lot of internet marketers. If you want to explore other options, check out our article on email marketing softwares here.
Step 9: Create autoresponders
Once people sign up on your list, what do you do next?
You demonstrate value by sending them valuable information that could benefit them.
The purpose (mission) of your blog should be clear.
The mission of our blog is to help people earn a full-time income from blogging.
Every email that you send your audience should be aligned to your mission.
Most email softwares have something called autoresponders, which are automated emails that are sent to your subscribers in a sequence determined by you.
For example, you can schedule your autoresponders in a such a manner that the moment someone signs up on your list, they get a welcome email, then two days later email 1, five days later email 2, and so on.
In other words, your list building and relationship building is on autopilot. Automation is one of the great benefits of internet marketing.
Step 10: Advertise
A lot of beginner bloggers plan their entire strategy around SEO. They think that all they need to do is write articles and somehow Google will send them visitors. It takes a long time to build organic search traffic.
So, you might need a bit of paid advertising to get your wheels moving. You needn’t have to spend a lot of money on advertising, even one dollar a day is a decent start. You don’t want your blog to go quiet. Starting small will allow you to explore what is working for you and what isn’t working for you.
Google AdWords and Facebook are two of the largest advertising platforms. I’ve got a lot of traffic come from these two platforms. Facebook seems the more cost-effective of the two. It’s best to start with Facebook and then explore other platforms if necessary.
Making money from affiliate marketing takes time and effort. It’s important to be disciplined and put in consistent work every day. The common mistake among beginners is that they are excited in the beginning, but they tend to lose interest and become impatient when they realize that their blog isn’t making them money. Be patient. It can take two years or more before you see any money.
Vinil Ramdev is a jack of all trades, trying to find his place in the business and blogging world. When not working, he is zenning on the meaning of life.