Many people start a blog as a creative outlet to share their expertise on particular areas of interest, but eventually, bloggers find that they may as well be earning for their interests as well. As the saying goes, time is money.
Affiliate marketing is one easy, effective, and essential way to do so.
Over plates of pasta and cups of cortado, an intimate group of six bloggers discussed ways to earn money through their blogs. The session was led and presented by prominent blogger and marketing consultant, Ari Adams of LovePeaceandTinyFeet, who leads the Metro Atlanta Bloggers meetup group.
Types of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is making money off of products that are not yours, Adams explained. The benefits of this are that it’s a passive form of income, but it can also be a crucial primary source of income for some people.
A blogger may link to a product in a blog post, and if a reader clicks on the link and purchases
In other forms, a customer may use a blogger’s promo code, which then attributes the purchase to the blogger so he or she can earn a cut of the profit at no cost to the customer. As examples Adams mentioned Commission Junction, ShareASale and Everywhere Society as effective affiliate programs that connect content creators and influencers with brands for campaigns. Some of these campaigns may require the blogger to have a certain number of views or visitors to a website, or a specific threshold of followers on a social media platform. These programs typically have an application form to complete, but Adams said if you happen to get rejected, you can always email the program to detail why you would be a good fit and what you have to offer.
However, one program, which has no minimum requirement, and is one of the easiest to use, is the Amazon Associates Program.
For instance, if you are already linking to products in your blog, then you might as well be making some money from linking to it on Amazon, Adams said. The Amazon Associates Program helps you create customized links for the products so that when a person reading your blog clicks on the link on your site and purchases a product within a given time frame, you can reap a percentage of the purchase price.
Adams suggested first finding a brand you already like and write about to join their affiliate program. Many brands already have these in place so if you are already wearing the clothes and using the products, check their website for affiliate programs. This is usually listed under a “Work With Us” link.
According to Adams, you should look for four things when considering an affiliate program:
- How does it fit with your brand?
- Is it something you can sell to your audience?
- Are there already good promotional materials you can use, such as images, product descriptions, effective copy, etc.? “You should not have to create it” Adams said.
- Average or minimum payout.
The first two are important because they deal with your image and success: As a worst-case scenario, if your audience feels you are suddenly talking about products or services that are not relevant to them, you risk losing them altogether, or at best, you are wasting time and energy to set up a campaign and promoting it to the wrong audience, which means you reap little, if any, benefit.
The third is important because they relate to the time, energy, and even money you have to spend to launch or create the campaign (Think sponsored post on Facebook, etc.). One of the benefits of affiliate marketing is that it is generally a passive form of income, so you shouldn’t have to put too much additional effort in creating the collateral or copy to promote it.
Finally, you want to know just how much you will be paid for your efforts. Linking up to a product is easy, so perhaps any payout there is fine. However, if you are spending more time and effort to create a blog post or video mentioning a product and there is minimal payout, you may want to reconsider.
The fine print
While affiliate marketing campaigns cost customers nothing, bloggers are legally required by the Federal Trade Commission to let their audience and followers know when a post is sponsored or if the blogger is earning money from a post.
It’s not enough to just have this in the legal or disclosure section of your blog, Adams emphasized. Even if it’s at the end of the post or somewhere static like the footer of the page, it’s essential to make sure you are legally compliant and letting readers know when you are getting paid.
For bloggers who are worried that this may turn off readers, Adams said this is typically not an issue if the content itself feels like it is organically written and fits with the rest of your blog’s content. Make sure you are providing useful information. Some easy ways to do this are gift guides and roundups for specific groups/events/holidays, product reviews, or how-to guides that simply mentions the products you used to reach a given outcome (think: DIY projects, trip planning, kids’ activity).
While the group of bloggers ranging from novice to expert learned about how important it was to link up on their websites, they also agreed that linking up and networking in person regularly was an engaging way for them to learn from each other. For Leigh Marshall of A Spoonful of Health w/LeighM, hearing from Adams and other bloggers was encouraging, given that she recently quit her traditional job and decided to blog full-time. Meanwhile, Tina Tsai, of Oh Snap! Let’s Eat, a healthy food blog, showed interest in Google AdWords, SEO techniques, and said she looking forward discussing newsletter tips in a future session, tentatively planned for June.
Adams’s advice to the bloggers, even for increasing rank in Google searches, is for them to link to each other’s relevant websites, and to keep adding those useful links to their pages:
“Make sure that everything that can be linked is linked.”
If you are an influencer, brand, or marketer interested in joining the Metro Atlanta Bloggers, register with us through the Metro Atlanta Blogger Meetup website and join our Facebook and Meetup groups for the latest even updates and resources.
Amritha Joseph is an Atlanta-based online journalist and creator of the In Transit Travel + Food Blog. She is the event coordinator for the Metro Atlanta Bloggers, and writes about travel and vegetarian food. Her mission is to guide others in creating meaningful life experiences through mindful travel, healthy home-cooked meals, and an active lifestyle. Join her for the journey by subscribing to her blog at http://www.joinmeintransit.com