How to do Affiliate Marketing: Why I love it and why YOU can (should!) love it too

Do you have a blog or website? Affiliate marketing the process through which you as an affiliate marketer are able to partner with brands online that will actually pay you commission for traffic or sales generated from its referrals.

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now and have been using affiliate marketing for just as long and I’m here to help YOU learn how to earn money on your blog through affiliate marketing.

This post may contain affiliate links. (of course it does!) See my DISCLOSURE POLICY for more details.

How to do Affiliate Marketing: Why I love it and why YOU can (should!) love it too!

If you are a blogger, there are a few affiliate programs that are easy and perfect for beginners. 

Affiliate Networks to Join

The first thing you’ll need to do when looking to partner with brands is to join affiliate platforms. They are like a middle man between the brand and the publisher/influencer. Here are some of my favorites that you should apply to: 

Impact Radius (my TOP performing affiliate network partner – they have SO many brands including Zulily, Jane.com, Cheryl’s Cookies, Crcos, Eddie Bauer and so many more!!) 

Cactus Media (so many good offers with HIGH bounties)
Share A Sale (literally 1,00s of brands – so many good ones – you’ll find smaller brands that are personally managed here, great for relationship building!) 
Commission Junction (this is a bigger platform and most brands here are managed by agencies but still some very good options here)

Start by signing up for the above ad networks. These are trusted networks – I’ve worked with all of them for many years. They’ll help you to connect with brands and account managers that can work with you to find the brands and products that are a fit for you and your audience. 

What is the best way to convert with affiliate marketing? Find the brands that fit you and your lifestyle.

Make Money with Affiliate Marketing. Partner with brands to earn money. (period.)

First, and most importantly what I love most about affiliate marketing is that it allows you to make money sharing and selling 100s (1000s!) of products without ever having to have invested in all of the things that go along with selling a product: inventory, warehousing, shipping, returns, customer service, etc. The brand is literally allowing you to make money with them and your only real investment is time. It’s a brilliant business model with so much potential for  and style of blog / niche.

I’m SO passionate about affiliate marketing that you will often find me speaking about it. In fact, once you get me started, you might not be able to shut me up. I truly love the affiliate model, such a wonderful way to connect great brands with consumers via online influencers.

 

Where to start with affiliate marketing? 

Know who YOU are as a consumer. Know who your AUDIENCE is. 

Dig deep into your analytics to find out what brings people to your site, what they are most interested in, your top searched keywords, etc. I highly recommend examining your google analytics and also creating a Fohr.co infuencer account (it’s free!) so that you can get an inside peek at who your readers are, where they come from, what they value and what most interests them. Here’s a peek at a screen shot from my She Saved Fohr.com account:
 
 

Most likely, your audience is very like-minded so things that resonate with you, will resonate with them. Experiment with this. Don’t be afraid to ask your audience what they are looking for, how you can help them. They are there for a reason and digging into what moves them will motivate you to find solutions which = sales/conversions.

A few years ago I wrote an article on this very topic for FeedFront magazine called Be Authentic to Increase Conversion Rates. I’ve based my business on this foundation of focusing on the products and brands that I love and trust the most and you know what? It works!

Conversion is everything in affiliate marketing. My top performers and highest converters have consistently been the products that I love most. Which makes sense, right? It’s as it should be. Affiliate is all about finding things that will resonate with your readers which will equal CONVERSION. Converting your readers into buyers/clickers takes time and patience but you will have the most luck doing this if you are sharing products/brands that you truly love, know and have/would purchase yourself.

The BEST Tools for Finding a Way to Reach Your Audience 

Of course, one of the best ways to reach your audience, is to find them! Two of my favorite tools for finding ways to reach my audience are ones you might already be using: 

SEMrushIf you are a blogger, this tool is one of my favorites (and possibly already yours too) for finding keywords for blog posts – but you should also consider using it for finding out ways to promote your favorite products to the right audience. It’s an amazing tool for this. If you aren’t yet using SEMrush, you can get a free SEMrush trial here.

RankIQAnother tool that is amazing for keyword research, RankIQ is so helpful for finding your favorite products online, how to keyword your promotion and how to find the audiences that might be searching for them. If you are not yet using RankIQ, you can learn more and sign up for RankIQ here and take advantage of their current offer for $50 off plus access to their helpful FB room.

 

 
 

Next step: find YOUR people.

To be the most successful with affiliate marketing, you’ll need to find the people who connect with the things and messages you are putting out there. Your blog is definitely your best asset, followed by your email list (wildly important) and then of course, your social channels. This is the very best way that I’ve found to get people to my site. 

Growing your social channels is key.

My best tip for growing your blog? Use social channels to get people to your site and then use good content and interaction to keep them there! How do you grow your social channels? Lot and lots of interaction, of course.

My number one tip for growing your blog and social channels? An email newsletter. I LOVE Flodesk. (get 1/2 off your first year by signing up for Flodesk here.) This has hands down been one of the best tools for growing my affiliate income and loyal audience over the past few years -in fact, it’s been a game changer. Not only is a great way to grow social channels (I promote them heavily through my emails and remind users to come interact during the day) but it’s also been a top convertor for favorite deals. Plus, in my opinion – it’s very easy to use and affordable. 

Another awesome tool for growing social channels or directing people to your blog is the FREE app called: Milkshakeit allows users to create a “link in bio” to direct users to a landing page for affiliate links (you could of course just use a blog page for this). You can see my very basic Milkshake link on the She Saved IG page here.

Affiliate Networks to Join

The first thing you’ll need to do when looking to partner with brands is to join affiliate platforms. They are like a middle man between the brand and the publisher/influencer. Here are some of my favorites that you should apply to: 

Impact Radius (my TOP performing affiliate network partner – they have SO many brands including Zulily, Jane.com, Cheryl’s Cookies, Crcos, Eddie Bauer and so many more!!) 

Cactus Media (so many good offers with HIGH bounties)
Share A Sale (literally 1,00s of brands – so many good ones – you’ll find smaller brands that are personally managed here, great for relationship building!) 
Commission Junction (this is a bigger platform and most brands here are managed by agencies but still some very good options here)

Start by signing up for the above ad networks. These are trusted networks and you’ll be connected to brands and account managers that can work with you to find the brands and products that are a fit for you and your audience. What is the best way to convert with affiliate marketing? Find the brands that fit you and your lifestyle.

Connect with Brands that align with your messaging.

Find the brands that align with your voice and messaging. Find the brands that WANT to work with you. Especially when you are just getting started. Make a list of your favorite things and start sharing them. Reach out to them. Go purchase the product and start writing about it. When readers see you using a product in your home, that definitely increases conversion potential.

For those JUST getting started with affiliate, find a few brands who are willing to take baby steps with you. Trust me…they are out there! Very few brands (esp in affiliate programs) wouldn’t be interested in helping you find conversion with your audience.

Most brands are more than eager to work with partners who want to work together to sell their products. Find the ones that WANT to make money with you…. it’s a win/win and the best way to build great and lasting relationships!

When getting started with an affiliate partner, communication is KEY. Don’t be afraid to tweak things or go back to the drawing board. Most likely you won’t knock it out of the park the first time, but with PATIENCE, you can learn as you go while at the same time teach your audience how to respond to clicking/buying. Remember: this is a learned behavior for both blogger and audience.

Breakfast Keynote Panel at Snap! Conference 2017 Blog Monetization and Income Avenues

What if my site is too small or too new for affiliate? 

Impossible! You are a person, you have influence. Don’t be afraid of numbers – nano and micro influencers are some of the top performers right now and I credit that to the strong engagement and niche topics. 

For example:

While only a small % of my audience is gluten-free, my friend who blogs about gluten-free living has an almost (probably) 100% gluten-free readership. When I post a deal on Gluten-free magazine I might see only a 5% conversion rate, where she will be at over 50% conversion. It’s really about knowing your audience and bringing them things that will spark interest.

Follow the SPARK to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing

Find the products that create a spark in you!! If it sparks interest with you, most likely it will spark interest with your audience.

For example: 

I currently have a teen daughter, so I’m focusing heavy on content that fits my life as a mom, and where we are at together right now. My blog is almost 15 years old, and I started when my kids were in diapers so many of my readers are in the same situation right now.

I’m constantly looking for brands and products that are either problem solvers (fills a need) or helpful/informational (product review). Finding brands as they hit the market is always a plus because it gives you first access to sharing them with your audience. Most importantly, finding brands that speak and align with your current lifestyle and messaging is a must.

Affiliate Marketing to Make Money + Other benefits of sharing affiliate posts: 

Great SEO if you can share new products/information
Hot offers can drive traffic to your site, especially when sent out in an email blast or shared through social.
Content. Getting creative and creating content around products that you want to share and sell add to the overall content health and uniqueness of your site! People are visiting your site to hear what you have to share, keep it unique by working with new and unique brand partners!

Affiliate Check List

Before I share a product/service with my audience, I go through this check list: 

Is this something I would buy myself / have I tried/seen/tested this product?
Best of internet pricing? (if relevant)
Does product align with voice/ethics of site and/or other brand partnerships?
Do I have a contact at the brand should something go wrong?

Is this something I would buy myself? AND have I tried/seen/tested this product?

Very rarely do I share something that I am not personally familiar with. If I having yet seen the product myself, I definitely make sure that it is something I would order or spend money on before I share it. I strongly urge you to NEVER stray from your ethics when it comes to making money, it’s just not worth the consequences and the trust that you earn from your followers is priceless. Truly.

Is the price best of internet pricing?

While I can’t always guarantee that this won’t change, at the time of posting – I always try to make sure that the item I’m sharing is at the best possible price available (outside of cash backs, etc) If it can be purchased somewhere cheaper, I feel like I can’t in good conscience share the item.

Does product align with voice/ethics of site and/or other brand partnerships?

It is important to maintain consistency and realistic sharing. I can’t rationalize getting my photos printed at 50 different photo sites (typically as a consumer I would have just a few favorites) HOWEVER, I can love shoes from many different shoe sources. Products that you are sharing have to align with your voice and the lifestyle that you live. It can be confusing to your audience (and look unauthentic) if you bounce around too much.

Do I have a contact at the brand should something go wrong?

And things WILL go wrong. You are the provider of the information and the confidence that your audience has in you stems from your ability to help them feel safe and confident with their transaction. Even though things will go wrong, you being able to fix it (provide a company contact, refund a purchase, replace a damaged items) will reassure your readers and create even more loyalty between you and your audience.

Finally: How to get started with Affiliate? 

Just JUMP!! You’ll be so glad you did!

My top recommendation for your first affiliate partnership would be to sign up as an affiliate with both Impact Radius and ShareASale. Their platforms are very easy to use and navigate and they are very helpful and offer several videos and tutorials for those just getting started. Once you get the feel for affiliate, there are definitely other affiliate platforms out there but Share A Sale is by far the best, in my opinion.

Brands that I recommend for those just getting started with affiliate marketing? 

SO many great brands in these networks! My favorites include: 

Impact Radius features some of my TOP performing brand partners so I highly recommend searching through their partner list to find YOUR favorites – they have SO many brands including Zulily, Jane.com, Cheryl’s Cookies, Crcos, Eddie Bauer and so many more!!) 

Cactus Media is a wonderful affiliate network for sharing high bounty offers. Things like discounted Sam’s Club offers, free streaming service trials, Hello Fresh and more. They have a fantastic team (and I actually help manage for them, so I’m happy to assist you in any way if you should need!) 

ShopYourLikes is another of my favorites for sharing links to merchants like Petco, Kohl’s, Nordstrom’s Rack and many others. I love their platform because it’s super easy to use. 

Once you are set up in ShareASale, there are so many brands to partner with. 

A Few Affiliate Tips, Tricks and Reminders: 

Always make sure to disclose your affiliate relationship.
Make sure your links are easy to see (link color matters!) and have your links open in a new window.
Include any photos of the product in your home / hands … readers love to see that you use the product.
If you are posting about a product that you have shared before, link back to your previous posts (for both SEO and credibility purposes)
Don’t forget to include an expiration date in your post if applicable.
I quite often remove ads from posts so that there is no confusion as to what/where to click.

What if I AM the brand? How do I set up affiliate marketing so that I can work with influencers? 

If you ARE the brand, then we need to talk! I’d love to help you bring your brand to affiliate marketing! Feel free to shoot me an email (shesaved@gmail.com) and if you aren’t ready to talk about it, just know that hands down, 100%  –

I’m going to recommend one of two networks to get your business rolling in the affiliate world. 

I’m going to suggest Impact Radius or ShareASale.

If you own an online business, and you want to sign up, you’ll want to select one of these networks as your platform to work with online partners. 

Both have amazing resources to help you get going and to efficiently grown and run your online affiliate business.

Questions about how that all works? Feel free to email me: shesaved@gmail.com. And cheers! You got this!