Making Money While You Dream

Have you heard that some bloggers regularly make 5 or 6 figures every month? If you are already blogging, but not using affiliate links in your blog posts, you are missing out on some easy income. There are many different ways to monetize your blog, but I highly recommend starting with affiliate marketing.

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What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the process where you make a commission by promoting someone else's product. You get a special referral link to the product and you are compensated when someone makes a purchase from your link. For example, let's say you wrote a blog post about a new skincare product. You place your link throughout the post and if one of your readers clicks your link and purchases that skincare product, you make a percentage of that commission - at no extra cost to the buyer!

For the seller, the blogger, and the buyer, it is a win-win-win. The seller gets someone else to do the promoting and has their product exposed to a new audience. The blogger makes a commission just by having their readers purchase the product. The buyer gets a product that was recommended by a blogger they love and they don't pay any extra fee or anything.

Affiliate marketing can truly be a blogger's best friend. If you are a blogger and you're not using affiliate marketing as at least part of your monetization strategy, you're really missing out on some easy income. Registering for affiliate programs and then promoting products to your audience is a great way to make some passive income!

Another great thing about affiliate marketing is that you don't have to have a large following. It's hard to land sponsored posts when you are first starting out because brands and companies tend to overlook the smaller, newer bloggers. But to make money with affiliate marketing, all you need is a strategy and a few engaged followers!


How to Become an Expert Affiliate Marketer

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is a blogger at Making Sense of Cents and she is an affiliate marketing expert. She consistently makes 6 figures every month thanks to her affiliate marketing strategies. She is the absolute best person to learn everything about affiliate marketing from!

I learned everything I know about affiliate marketing from her course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. In this course, there are 6 modules, over 30 lessons, over 20 worksheets, bonuses, an extremely helpful exclusive Facebook group, and more, and she goes through everything when it comes to affiliate marketing, such as:

  • What affiliate marketing is and how it works
  • Why affiliate marketing is great
  • The exact steps she's taken to earn over $300,000 from a single blog post
  • How to pick the right affiliate products to promote
  • How to increase conversions
  • How to build trust and not lose followers
  • Required disclosures that you need to know about
  • The one major tool you need for affiliate marketing
  • Different strategies to use to promote your affiliate products
  • How to use Pinterest to succeed at affiliate marketing (yes, this includes the newest Pinterest affiliate rules!)

The best thing about the course is that you are learning how to make money blogging, so you'll make the money back within days. I made my first affiliate sale within 24 hours of completing the course.


Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing

First thing first, you need to register for affiliate programs. There are lots to choose from and what works best for one blogger might not work best for you. Try them out; see which programs have products and services that align with your blog.

  • Share-a-sale

    • Share-a-sale is a great place to start. They have a huge variety of merchants that you can apply to, so you'll be able to find great programs for your blog regardless of your niche. The commission differs for each program. Some programs will even pay you just for leads!

  • Brand Cycle 
    Referral code: BRAND1339

    • Beauty, fashion, and lifestyle bloggers, this one's for you!
    • Brand Cycle is an affiliate platform that I find to be the easiest to navigate. It has a bookmarklet tool that allows you to create links directly from the retailer sites.
    • Some of the retailers that Brand Cycle has include: ASOS, American Eagle, BirchBox, Bloomingdale's, Etsy, Express, FabFitFun, Forever 21, Macy's, Nordstrom Rack, Saks Fifth Avenue, Rent the Runway, Target, Urban Outfitters, Warby Parker, and hundreds more!
  • CJ Affiliate

    • CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction) is very similar to Share-a-sale in that it has soooo many merchants. It also has a deep-link generator that you can use to create links from affiliate websites without having to go to CJ Affiliate's website every time you want to create an affiliate link.
  • Amazon Associates

    • While the commission for Amazon Associates is not great (8-15%), it can be very profitable. Why? Because everyone uses Amazon. And the best part about this program - if someone clicks on your Amazon link and does not purchase that product, but does purchase other products, you will still make a commission for leading them to Amazon in the first place.
    • Once, someone purchased a book that I had recommended on a blog, but ALSO purchased all of their textbooks for that semester at school - I made a huge commission!
    • Amazon sells everything, so it's a great place to get affiliate links if you are making a round-up post (we'll talk more about this later)
  • AWIN

    • Awin (Affiliate Window) is great for anyone who wants to promote Etsy products! They have hundreds of other great merchants as well. They're great for anyone because of the wide variety of merchants.

    • With Linqia, you create an Influencer profile. You connect all of your social media platforms and then brands will reach out to you with their program. It is a different concept than other affiliate programs but it works well! You partner with brands and create great content specifically for them.
  • Ultimate Bundles

    • Ultimate Bundles is a different concept than the above. Ultimate Bundles finds the very best digital products (ebooks, courses, membership sites, etc.) and groups them into categories such as Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, Ultimate Healthy Recipe Meal Planning Bundle, Genius Blogger's Toolkit, and more. Then, for one week each year, that bundle goes on sale for a huge discount!
    • You make 40% commission for each sale!

Affiliate Marketing For Courses

I love love love online courses. While I studied social media, advertising, and design in college and grad school, there is something different about taking courses from the people who have been in your exact position. I have learned so much from other people who have built their own online businesses. They'll give you exact step-by-step guides and strategies that make learning and figuring it out much easier.

When I first started blogging, I kept thinking "I don't need to take any online courses, I can figure it out on my own." But I was very very wrong. The amount of time it takes to research how to do things and then come up with your own strategies can take a while, especially considering you'll be learning from trial and error and may need to try multiple strategies out. With online courses, these instructors have already perfected their processes and you'll save tons of time and energy by learning from them!

You're probably wondering why I am talking about courses on a post about affiliate marketing....

Well, a huge benefit of online courses is that many of them offer affiliate programs after you've completed the course! For example, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner's course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing offers an affiliate program for those who have taken the course. So if you've taken the course and want to recommend it to others, you'll make a commission!

Even better, you have to have taken the course yourself to be able to become an affiliate. So your readers will know that you are not just promoting the course to make money - you have actually invested your time and money in that course and found it beneficial!

Courses I have taken and recommend:

If you have taken courses before, check if they have an affiliate program! Or take one of these courses and become an affiliate if you enjoyed it!

How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing

Once you are registered with affiliate programs, you need to figure out your strategies for promoting the links. There are several different ways to make money with your affiliate links. Some of my favorite include:

  • Write a blog post reviewing the pros and cons of the product or service
  • Create a resource page that includes your affiliate links
  • Place banners on your blog
  • Use your affiliate links on Pinterest pins
  • Email your list about a product or service
  • Roundup blog posts (ex. the top 10 _____ for _____)

Affiliate Marketing: Best practices

Do not promote products or services that you do not personally use/love. A good rule of thumb: if you wouldn't recommend it to your friends and family, don't promote it to your readers. If someone purchases something per your recommendation and it turns out to be a terrible product or service, they will lose trust in you and no longer make purchases based on your recommendations. However, if someone ends up loving the products you recommend, they are going to continue referring to you for references!

Add affiliate links to every single blog post!

Test out a variety of techniques and find out which one works best for you. Maybe your blog posts will drive lots of clicks and sales but your emails just lead to unsubscribers - then focus more on the posts.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. This is super important. If you are a beauty blogger and you're emailing your list with recommendations for books, they will probably unsubscribe from your list. That is not what they signed up for. The longer that you blog, the better you will get to know your audience - what posts are they sharing/commenting/liking the most? What emails have the highest open rates? As you familiarize yourself with your audience, you'll be able to make recommendations that they will appreciate.

So what are you waiting for? Apply for some programs, set up some passive income streams, then go take a nap!


DISCLOSURE: This blog post contains affiliate links! But like you read above, there is no extra cost for you. I will never promote a product or service that I have not used and loved.