Here are some of my best affiliate marketing tips (affiliate marketing explained).
- Focus on relationships first. Affiliate marketing is all about trust. When a friend recommends a product to you, you listen. Not so much when just any old Joe does. In fact, if you're like me, it makes you skeptical.
- Focus on building traffic next. More traffic means more eyeballs and therefore more people who will potentially buy the product(s) you promote.
- Choose products that help your reader solve a problem or address a fear.
- Promote products you can genuinely recommend, preferably because you've used it yourself, or because you can confidently promote it based on solid evidence that it's a good product.
- Promote products you are already using. When I started this blog, it was a no-brainer to sign up as an affiliate with Bluehost since that's the hosting company I was already using myself. Food blogger? What's your favorite cookware? Write a post about it. Craft blogger? What's your favorite crafting tool? Write a post about it.
- Review your old posts and look for affiliate opportunities. Have you ever mentioned a product, perhaps in passing, that you use? Maybe you didn't even think about it at the time, but is there an affiliate program for it? Find out (just google "affiliate program [product/company]") and update those posts with your affiliate links.
- Think of what your readers will realistically buy. You have to know your audience. If your blog is mainly about living frugally, they're probably not going to buy luxury products. I know, obvious.
- Think of how much your readers will realistically spend. When I was writing my ebook, I was stuck on pricing. I asked around for opinions. Surprisingly, a number of people suggested I price my ebook at $47! The idea behind this was to price according to value, not size. But in my mind it was crazy. My network was composed of a lot of stay-at-home mom bloggers, many deal bloggers and my collective audience was comprised mostly of women without a whole lot of disposable income. I knew there was no way anyone was going to pay $47 for my 30-page ebook.
- Having said that, don't just promote products that don't cost a lot. If there is a truly useful product that's on the pricier side, it can still be worth the promotion even if only a few people buy it. If it's a product of exceptional quality that is truly a good investment (i.e. KitchenAid Mixer) or if it's a product that's unique, specialized or one-of-a-kind (and you've used it yourself), go for it.
- Think of when your readers will realistically buy. Maybe you should avoid holidays (when people are away from their computers like July 4) or maybe you should target holidays (like the day after Thanksgiving) but know the difference.
- Promote products within a post, not just in your sidebar. Include your personal experience with the product. Your own photos of yourself using the product are excellent.
- Be honest. Talk about what you like a don't like. Be fair and build trust. It will serve you well later.
- Having said that, there have been many discussion among bloggers about whether you should post a negative review or not. I'm all for honesty, but I would first contact the company and let them know your post won't be totally favorable. Maybe they can fix it or maybe you can just skip the review altogether.
- Use effective calls to action in your posts. Do you end your posts well?
- Hone your sales or copywriting skills.
- Make sure you create catchy titles to draw people in. My main tip here is to make it personal, not sales-y. What would you be more likely to read? "It Makes My Site Hum" or "Review: Bluehost Hosting"?
- Promote products in your email newsletter or in your footer.
- Promote products or affiliate posts on Twitter or Facebook.
- Add a bonus of your own to the product. (A great tip from ProBlogger.)
- Disclose your affiliate relationship. Make sure you let your readers know when you are using affiliate links. The way I've opted to do this is to include a disclosure statement at the end of any post that contains affiliate links. I also link to my general Disclosure Policy page. Here's a generator that helps you create your own Disclosure page.
- Diversify. Don't put all your eggs in one affiliate product basket. Promote multiple affiliate products. Better yet, diversify across all income streams. In other words, utilize affiliate marketing, but also utilize other forms of income generating potential like selling your own product, offering a service, or selling ad space on your blog.
- Having said that, strike a balance. Don't pursue any and every income generating opportunity. Pick a handful (3-5?) and develop those well.
- Make sure your non-affiliate content is consistent and high quality. One of the most common answers to the question "I lose interest in a blog when _____" was when a blog had more sponsored or affiliate posts and less meaty content posts. Sprinkle your affiliate marketing posts among your pillar content, not the other way around.
- Make sure you attach your affiliate link to images! I see this all the time: an affiliate marketer is promoting a product in a post, but when I click on the image, I'm taken to the upload page of that image, instead of the sales page for that product. In the age of sites like Pinterest, users are accustomed to clicking images so make sure yours send them to the sales page and not a dead end!
- Don't forget affiliate programs for services. While products are typically what affiliate marketers promote, there are many services with affiliate programs as well. There are many freelancers who offer some sort of commission (future discounts or even cash).
- Be an affiliate marketer for offline merchants as well. We've all seen brick & mortar businesses offer a discount to those who provide a referral. If you have a local blog and promote the products or services of a local business, ask them how you can be included in their referral program.
- Create a "Tools I Use" or "Things I Love" page. Many readers enjoy seeing a handy list of your favorites, plus it's an easy and excellent way to highlight some affiliate links.
Got any more tips to add? Feel free to leave them in the comments!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.