Affiliate marketing 101

Can you keep a secret?

When I started blogging I was completely broke

I couldn’t afford to buy a single toy for my kids

I was penniless

But thanks to affiliate marketing I managed to make $127.97 two months after launching my blog!

Not much but for a mom who couldn’t buy toys for her kids it was a lot

If you’re completely new to blogging it seems like making money with affiliate marketing is just a fantasy

But trust me if done well affiliate marketing can change your life

What Is Affiliate Marketing

what is affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is when an affiliate finds a product/service to promote using a unique link and when someone makes a purchase via that link the affiliate gets a share of the profit

From my own experience affiliate marketing is the best way to make money with a new blog because you don’t have to worry about product creation

You only focus on creating quality content that helps your readers so that they easily click on the affiliate links (on that post) to make a purchase and you earn your commission

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work

You have heard it everywhere that with affiliate marketing you make money while you sleep, right? 

It’s possible

If done well you can (literally) make money while you sleep but if you don’t do it properly then it will take forever for you to make your first affiliate sale

I will never forget how excited I was when I woke up one morning, logged into my ShareASale affiliate account and found this:

Affiliate marketing commission

I made a whopping $150 overnight!

Pretty cool right?

You can too

But how does this whole thing work? you might ask

The process is quite simple, first, you (the affiliate) find a product to promote

It can be your favourite face scrub, your favourite hosting platform or a service that you think your readers will benefit from depending on your niche

And you join the affiliate program for that service/product

Some companies (let’s call them merchants) will manage their own affiliate programs on their sites but for some reasons, other merchants prefer to run their affiliate program on affiliate marketing networks

So if that’s the case you’ll have to join their affiliate program via the affiliate marketing network they use

When you get accepted as an affiliate they’ll give you a unique link

Next, you’ll write an epic blog post or a review about the product

And you add that unique link to your post and when your readers click on that link and make a purchase you get a commission

Your readers will not be charged an extra cost

This means if the product is $50 on your merchant’s site it will remain $50 when they buy it using your link

You’ll get your share of the profit from that $50

Here’s an image to help you visualize the process:

how affiliate marketing works

What Are The Benefits Of Affiliate Marketing

The number 1 benefit of affiliate marketing is that you make money while you sleep, *kidding*

Though you can make money while you sleep we can’t say it’s a number one benefit, can we?

There are some blogging income streams that make you money while you sleep or whilst you’re not active on your blog

Think of selling your own products or displaying ads

That said, the #1 benefit of affiliate marketing is that it’s a low-cost business opportunity, you don’t need capital to get started and sometimes you might not even need a site

You only have to join the affiliate program, get the link and start promoting

And if you want a site you might start a blog for free and start affiliate marketing right away

But I personally don’t recommend that because some affiliate marketing networks won’t accept you and it’s not professional

Another good thing about affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to create any product, which means no waiting for any launch, you start selling from day one

Almost every new blogger starts blogging without any product or service to offer

All you have to do is find a product to promote and make money when your readers buy it

This means if they have any queries they’ll contact the merchant not you

But you mustn’t take advantage of that and promote garbage, you’ll lose their trust

Did I mention that you don’t have to be an expert?

That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing

You don’t have to be an expert to get started or to start making money

You learn as you go

When I started I didn’t know a lot about affiliate marketing

I only knew that I have to write a blog post >> mention the product that I was promoting >> insert a link and wait for my readers to click and make a purchase

I’m still not an affiliate marketing expert but I make money with it, you really don’t have to be a guru my friend

Phew, now you know what is affiliate marketing and how it works

Let’s talk about the affiliate marketing terms you need to know before you get started so that you don’t get confused

20 Affiliate Marketing Terms You Need To Know Before You Get Started

Some links in this section are affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to buy toys for my kids if you use these links. You will not be charged extra. I only recommend high-quality products and I don’t recommend them based on the small amount I earn if you decide to make a purchase

Below are the terminologies that are often used in affiliate marketing:

1) Merchant: A person or a company that offers services or products to customers, they pay affiliates for new customers they send to their sites

Merchants are also known as Advertisers

2) Affiliate: That’s you! the one promoting a merchant’s product and get paid a commission when someone you refer makes a purchase

An affiliate is also known as a publisher or a partner

3) Commission: This is the term used for the amount that you’ll earn when someone you refer makes a purchase

4)Payment Threshold: This is a minimum amount of commission dollars you (the affiliate) must earn before being paid

5) Affiliate Program: This is an arrangement in which the merchant pays affiliates

This is where they set up commission rates, payments schedules and all their rules

6) Affiliate Network: As I mentioned earlier some merchants run their own affiliate program whereas others prefer to use an affiliate network

An affiliate network is also known as an affiliate market place or affiliate platform

It’s in charge of managing affiliate programs created by different merchants and it also acts as an intermediary between affiliates and merchants

The best example of an affiliate network is ShareASale, once you join ShareASale you’ll find different types of merchants to promote

7) Affiliate Disclosure: This is a notice you add on your blog to notify your readers that you’re using affiliate links and that you’ll earn a commission if they buy the product using your links

An affiliate disclosure is mandatory, it’s required by law, you and your affiliate network might get sued if you promote affiliate products without disclosing

You can learn more about affiliate disclosures here

8) Privacy Policy Page: This is a page that informs your readers how you collect their personal information and what you do with it

Many affiliate networks require you to have a privacy policy page this means if you don’t have one they’ll not approve your affiliate application

It’s a good idea to have one before trying to join any affiliate program

Generate your privacy policy for free here

9) Affiliate Link: This is the key to all the moola, an affiliate link is a unique trackable link that the merchant gives you when you join their affiliate program

This link will help them track all the sales and leads you make

10) Link Cloaking: This refers to hiding affiliate tracking codes in links and shortening your affiliate links

Bloggers cloak affiliate links for different reasons,

Some cloak because affiliate links are ugly, some to track link clicks and some for security reasons to prevent folks from switching affiliate IDs

The best plugin for cloaking links is Pretty links and it’s free

11) Cookie: These are text files which are stored on your reader’s PC once they click on your affiliate link

They’re used to give your reader an ID so that when they revisit your merchant’s site you’ll earn your commission whether your reader uses your link again or not

12) Banner Ad: A banner ad is a clickable visual advertisement of the same product you promote using your affiliate link, this means it also contains a unique trackable link

13) Conversion: This is the desired action that your readers make when you send them to your merchant’s site, it might be a sale or signing up for whatever they’re promoting

14) Conversion Rate: A conversion rate is used to show how many times your affiliate link has generated sales compared to how many times your link was viewed

15) Lead: This is someone who has the potential to become a customer

For example, if you send someone to your merchant’s landing page and she opts in but doesn’t buy anything, your merchant will record that as a lead and some merchants will pay you for that

16) Landing Page: This refers to your merchant’s sales page. It’s a page where they provide more information about their product or service

17) Data feed: This is a file where your merchant lists all the products you can promote

This is where you’ll find all the images, descriptions, price and the affiliate links of the products

18) Associate: It’s another name for an affiliate

19) Niche: This refers to a topic you’ll be writing about on your blog for example if you’re going to write about fashion you’ll be in a fashion niche

20) SERP: It’s a quick way to say search engine results page

How To Start Affiliate Marketing As A Blogger

How to start affiliate marketing as a blogger

The first step to get started varies from blogger to blogger and I’m going to show you the easy way to go about it

When I first started I started with creating a blog and then decide on what to promote on my blog and you know what?

I ended up switching niches and starting over again because I wasn’t sure of what I was doing

That said, to get started with affiliate marketing as a blogger you need to…

Decide What You Want To Promote

The good thing about affiliate marketing is that you’ll find what to promote regardless of your niche

You only have to make sure that you choose the right products

For example, if you want to blog about fashion you must choose products that are useful to fashion lovers

You can’t promote blogging tools to folks who want to learn fashion from you

Once you decide what you want to promote on your blog you can easily come up with blog post ideas and creating content becomes darn easy

If it’s hard for you to come up with blog content ideas you can use a free tool like UseTopic to generate content ideas

All you have to do is enter your keyword and this tool will show you the exact questions that folks are typing in Google search

Once you’re done the next step is to…

Choose a Good Web Host And Buy a Custom Domain Name

I have mentioned earlier that you can start affiliate marketing with a free site but I don’t recommend it

Not only will you not be accepted on some affiliate programs but you won’t have full control over your site

For example, if you build your blog with WordPress.com there’re restrictions regarding the products and services you promote

You don’t want that

Not to mention that your readers won’t trust you

Say you start a blog on a free platform and you want to teach your readers how to make money blogging or how to make money online, will they trust you?

They won’t because you’ll be using a free domain name and free hosting

How on earth would they follow your tips whilst you don’t look like someone who’s making money blogging?

You get the point?

I highly recommend you host your blog at Siteground, I moved to Siteground early 2019 and I never looked back

I never had any problems and their customer support is out of this world

The only downside is that it’s a bit pricey (it’s $6.99/m paid yearly) and most new bloggers won’t afford it

But don’t fret

You can still host your blog at Bluehost it’s cheaper (only $3.95/m for the first 3 years) and you get a custom domain name for free

I’ve read positive reviews about Bluehost that’s why I promote it

If you opt for Siteground (which I highly recommend) you can buy a domain name at Namecheap

Read this step-by-step guide and learn how to start your own blog with Siteground

Now that you have a blog it’s time to…

Add Legal Pages On Your Blog Before Publishing Anything

I highly recommend that you add the legal pages before you publish your first blog post

These pages are:

  1. Privacy Policy Page – We’ve discussed the Privacy policy page above it’s a page which informs your site visitors how you collect their information and how you use it
  2. Disclaimer Page – This is where you let your visitors know that you use affiliate links

These pages are essential and are required by law

If you’ve been blogging and using affiliate links on your site without these pages on your site please add them ASAP

Generate your Disclaimer and Privacy Policy page for free

Now that you know what you want to sell on your blog and you have all the legal pages in place it’s time to…

Find Affiliate Products and Services to Promote

Finding affiliate products and services to promote is pretty easy because there’re lots of ways you can use

The easiest is becoming an affiliate for the products you already use

Say you want to promote beauty products you can simply start by promoting your favourite lotion or lipstick

This way it becomes easy to market the product because you already know the benefits of using it

You can do this by visiting your product’s website and check if they have an affiliate program

Look for terms like Affiliates, Affiliate Program, Partners or Become an Affiliate in their footer

If you click on those terms you’ll be directed to a page where they have all the information on how you can become their affiliate

You can also search on Google by typing your niche + affiliate, for example parenting+affiliate

You’ll see a list of affiliate programs for your niche

You can also join bigger affiliate programs that other bloggers are already working with and I have compiled a short list for you bellow

5 Best Affiliate Programs For Beginner Bloggers

The affiliate programs that I’ve listed here are perfect for new bloggers and are my favourites

I love that they don’t care about the amount of traffic or how many posts you have on your blog

1) ShareASale

If you’ve visited my blog before you know how much I LOVE ShareASale

It’s my main source of income and my #1 recommendation for every new blogger who wants to make consistent affiliate income

ShareASale is an affiliate network which means when you join you’ll find various types of affiliate programs hosted inside ShareASale by merchants from different niches

In other words you’ll find a merchant to promote regardless of what you blog about

2) Ultimate Bundles

If ShareASale isn’t careful this is going to be my #1 affiliate program lol

Ultimate bundles offers a collection of digital products such as ebooks, courses, memberships etc in one bundle at a low price

For example, they collect blogging resources for bloggers that are worth $2000-$10000 and combine them into one bundle and sell it for $90+, they call it the Genius blogger’s toolkit

If you become their affiliate you get the toolkit for 40% off and you earn 40% for every bundle you sell

They have bundles for various niches

3) Wealthy Affiliate

Wealthy affiliate is both a web hosting platform and an affiliate marketing school

They teach affiliate marketing from scratch, that’s where I learnt affiliate marketing

I joined WA when I didn’t know anything about blogging and affiliate marketing

They have web hosting services and a keyword research tool

So if you become their affiliate you can promote their training, their hosting services or their keyword tool OR you can promote everything, it’s up to you!

It’s free to join wealthy affiliate but they also have a premium membership and as a free member you’ll earn half of what premium members earn

4) SendOwl

Sendowl is an eCommerce platform where bloggers store and sell their digital products

Some of these bloggers also run their own affiliate programs via SendOwl

You can make money with SendOwl by referring bloggers to SendOwl or by becoming an affiliate for other bloggers who host their affiliate programs on SendOwl

5) Stella & Dot

If you’re a fashion blogger you’re going to love Stella and Dot

It’s an online boutique and has a generous affiliate program

You earn 12% commission on qualifying purchases from new customers and 5% from returning customers

And $100 commission for a qualified brand ambassador

How To Make Your First $100 With Affiliate Marketing

You now know the basics of affiliate marketing

Your blog is up and running and you have affiliate products to promote, it’s time to make some money!

I believe that the more hard work you put in the more money you make so don’t expect the easy way to go about it

And don’t listen to those who say it’s easy to make money with affiliate marketing

It’s literally easy in a sense that you promote a product (you didn’t create) and folks will use your link to make a purchase

But that’s not all

You have to put in hard work on creating content

Folks will buy your product if you tell them how useful it is to them not if you ask them to buy it

That said to make your first $100 with affiliate marketing you have to:

  • Write an epic (How To) blog post– Write an in-depth how-to guide or tutorial showing your readers how the product you’re promoting is used and why they must use it
  • Write a review – Write an unbiased review about a product, list all the pros and cons or compare it with a similar product you’re an affiliate for. For example, in my niche, I can review Bluehost vs Siteground to help my readers decide which host is the best
  • Create a resource page – List all the products you use and recommend and add your affiliate links
  • Start an email list – Create a free guide, ebook or a free short course that has to do with the product you want to promote and add your affiliate link
  • Mention your products on social media – Tell your followers how much you love your product and link to it using your affiliate link, this works but it’s not effective. The best way to promote on social media is to mention the product and direct folks to a full post with more details about the product, that way you gain their trust and get more sales

Enjoy Affiliate Marketing

Now that you know what is affiliate marketing, how it works and how to make your first $100 it’s time to take action and enjoy the beauty of affiliate marketing

Remember to always put your readers in mind and be resourceful

If you focus only on the money they’ll know and they won’t trust you, which will affect your affiliate earnings

To fast track your affiliate marketing success I have a perfect affiliate marketing training for you

In this training my friend Ana will show you how to make your first $1000 with affiliate marketing

Ana makes more than $40.000 with affiliate marketing and is ready to share with you her secret affiliate marketing strategies

Grab Ana’s Affiliate Marketing training bundle here

Are you ready to get started with affiliate marketing? let me know in the comment section bellow

I hope this post helped you, please show some love kindly share with your peeps and don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest

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