The Basics of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Marketing,  Marketing

The Basics of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great strategy to monetize your blog. When you don’t have any products or services to sell, affiliate marketing will help you make money. In this never-ending pandemic, we are all looking for ways to bring in some extra income, and you can definitely do this with your blog.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. For more information, please read the disclaimer.

The Basics of Affiliate Marketing

Transparence is key

First things first, you need to have a disclaimer if you insert affiliate links in your blog posts. You are legally obliged to let your readers know you will get a commission if they buy the products through your affiliate links.

If you want to learn more about this legal aspect, head over to the FTC’s Endorsement Guide.

Your readers should trust you

Building trust with your readers is essential to your success. If they know you will be making money from their purchase, they are allowed to know, but they also know that they will be supporting you. Being transparent with everything will make your readers trust you because they will know you are not shady.

Insert a disclaimer at the top of your post

Now, how do you ensure your readers know there are affiliate links in your blog post? You can use a simple disclaimer of 2-3 sentences, including a link to your website disclaimer (if you don’t have one, you can read this blog post or purchase a website disclaimer template here).

Here’s the one that I use. Feel free to use it as well, and make sure to italicize it so it stands out.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. For more information, please read the disclaimer.

You also need to put it as close to the top as possible. From a legal standpoint, the disclaimer should be inserted before any affiliate links, so that the reader knows the article contains such links. As you may have noticed in my posts, I tend to put it right after the 1st paragraph, but before the Pinterest image.

What is the world is “affiliate marketing” anyway?

Simply put, affiliate marketing is when a company pays you a commission when you promote their products or services on your platforms and someone makes a purchase from your affiliate links.

Now, what should you apply for, when it comes to affiliate marketing?

This depends greatly on your niche. If you are a food blogger, it won’t be useful for you to apply for a clothing company affiliate program. If you are a travel blogger, it wouldn’t be logical to apply for a credit card affiliate program. Unless it REALLY fits your niche and would actually HELP your readers.

As far as I know, when it comes to affiliate networks, you are not limited in the number of programs you can apply for. Just choose what you would like to promote wisely. Keep in mind that affiliate marketing is a great way of making money as long as you know what your audience NEEDS, or they won’t buy anything, and you might lose their interest.

Examples – Affiliate programs I joined

I’ll give you an example from my “How to adult” blog, A Grammar Nerd’s Life. My audience is mostly moms and young adults trying to understand how to do all that adult stuff that we should have learned in school. I am located in Canada, but 75% of my audience is from the United States, about 20% from Canada, and 5% from the rest of the world. From my perspective, and based on the analytics data I got from Google Analytics, this is what I thought would be beneficial for my readers.

I am an affiliate for:

  • Amazon (because you can find pretty much anything there)
  • 2 kids-clothing companies
  • 3 bookstores (including an audiobooks service)
  • 1 children education app that I actually use with my kids
  • 1 coffee company (I had to… How moms would survive without coffee?)
  • 1 agenda company (that I am OBSESSED with)
  • 2 companies for baby and kids supplies

When I joined ShareASale, I went into a frenzy and applied to a ton of programs, including a travel company that I’ve never heard of. But the thing is, my audience doesn’t come to me for travel tips and resources, so this affiliation won’t do anything for me.

Things to consider before applying to an affiliate program

Another important point: while you absolutely do not need to buy products or services from the affiliate programs you apply for, it’s preferable to know what you are promoting.

  • Do you know the company?
  • Do you legitimately care about their products or services?
  • What are your feelings towards that company?
  • Do they fit with your personal values?

You definitely need to consider all of these elements before applying.

Where can I find affiliate products?

There are 2 options: you can join affiliate programs or affiliate networks.

Affiliate programs

These programs are managed by a company for its own products. The most popular affiliate program you know is Amazon. They give you access to an Associate portal (another word for “affiliate”), where you can input keywords to get an affiliate link to specific products from their website.

If you want to find out if a brand you love has an affiliate program, simply Google the name of the brand, and add “affiliate” next to it. You will find out if they offer affiliate programs.

Here are a few ideas of affiliate programs:

Affiliate networks

These networks allow you to access many companies that manage their affiliate programs through a network.

Here are a few examples:

Keep in mind that you need to apply before you can start promoting their products or services. That means that some programs may decline your application. Don’t take it personally! It just means that, for now, you do not meet their requirements. You can always apply later, once you do meet these requirements.

Read the Terms & Conditions

Don’t forget to read the terms & conditions of every affiliate program you’re accepted into. Some of them don’t let your friends and family purchase through your links, while some of them are more flexible. Read the conditions to make sure you are promoting them legally.

For instance, Amazon gives you 180 days to make 3 eligible sales before letting you in their associate program. I applied when I launched my first blog and I ended up being kicked out because I had made 0 sales, and had barely any link clicks over that period. Once my bruised ego calmed down, I reapplied. I am in this 180-day period again, hoping to make it into their program this time!

Payout

You also need to read about their payout policies. Some companies pay every 30 days, while some others pay every quarter. It really depends on their structure. Make sure to read about the payout policies to not get any bad surprises.

Another important point: if a person makes a purchase through your link but later asks for a refund, you won’t get paid. This is generally why there is a delay before companies pay you your commission.

Affiliate links and SEO

For the indexing robots of Google and other search engines, you need to change a setting so that they don’t follow these links (because you get commissions on these links). You used to have to change the settings in the HTML code editor on WordPress but now, you simply need to check these 2 options.

If you want to make sure you haven’t forgotten to tag a link as sponsored, download the free Chrome extension NoFollow. When a link has been set to “no follow” or “sponsored”, you will see a red dotted box around it, just like in the image below.

Side note: You don’t need to tag links that are not sponsored links!

So, I hope I gave you enough information to get your affiliate marketing strategy started! It is possible to monetize your blog, even if you just launched your blog. Tell me in the comments below what are your favorite affiliate programs!

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