There are many ways to use affiliate marketing. Here we are going to look at a few of my favorites as well as some of the best practices for using affiliate marketing to grow your blog. Since this is a post about affiliate marketing it may not surprise you that I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
How can I find out what my customers want to buy?
Affiliate marketing can be a lot of trial and error so don't give up after a few tries. It takes a lot of posts and links to start making money. Remember to ask yourself, “How does your affiliate fit your goal or your customer's life?” There are a few ways to find out your follower's interests.
- ASK! Take a survey on subjects using social media or in your newsletter
- BE COVERT – take the emails from your newsletter subscribers and search wish lists on Amazon, they may have them as public, and you might find a common thread
- Check your Google Analytics – Go to Audience – Interests and see what subjects your viewers lean towards it may be something different than your blog subject that could make you lots of money.
- See what other influencers in your niche are sharing and writing about using affiliate links
- Look at your comments on blog posts and social media they might give you a few clues
- Check the ages of your followers on Google Analytics, if they are in your age range go with things you like most likely they will too!
- Share things you have a story about, is it something you love? That will come through in your post.
Appeal to a need – Rachel Miller, from One Crazy House, has a fantastic e-book, Going Viral on Social Media. She states that our readers have three primary needs. 1. Missing Information 2. Loss & Reward 3. Emotional Connection. Use your affiliate products to meet one of these primary needs and you will get then to buy quicker!
Affiliate Marketing Programs
There are a ton of affiliate marketing programs available; you have to find the one that works best for you and your blog. When applying to be an affiliate, it's best to go wide instead of deep. In other words join lots of companies, not just a few. One of the best things about affiliate marketing is that you can use more than one company in a post. In this post about Back to School Must Haves, I used six different affiliate companies.
Amazon – anything and everything but very small payout
Shareasale – wide variety easy to use, very responsive customer service
Flex Offers – medium sized variety but top notch companies, easy to use very responsive customer service
Commission Junction – marginal variety, customer service not great but lots of people like to use it
Rakuten– I am new to this company, but it is highly rated
Click Bank – ebooks and digital products
Skimlinks – auto adds affiliate links to keywords on your blog. It's no fuss no muss but be careful of your settings or it may be too much.
Don't see the company you want to work with? First Goole COMPANY XYZ AFFILIATE PROGRAM. If that doesn't turn up anything, then go to their website and look at their footer. If all else fails, email their PR person.
Affiliate Disclosure Ideas
The rules are a little different on your website than they are for social media however your disclosure should be clear, concise, and require no user action to understand it. The words affiliate link are not sufficient in a post. It must state that you are getting paid so people who have no clue what affiliate links are will understand. You can read info straight from the FTC here.
Everything is open to interpretation but here are a few guidelines that I have found to be generally agreed on by myself and my affiliate program managers:
- At the beginning of the post just like a sponsored disclosure or close to the first link in the post. To avoid SEO issues, I usually put it under the first photo in my post – see here. It MUST be before the 1st affiliate link in your post.
- They cannot be buried in your footer nor can they be something that has to be clicked through to understand so just putting the word affiliate disclosure hyperlinked will not suffice.
- In a font that is equal in size to the font on your post and in a shade that stands out against the background. This means no tiny writing, and you can't make it lighter than the font you already use.
- Above the fold so that the visitor does not have to scroll down to see it. It must be clear from the beginning.
Ways to write an affiliate disclosure
You can be as direct, funny or creative as you want to be with your disclosure as long as it is clear. Feel free to make is match your writing style. Here are a few suggested ways to word it on blog posts:
- We are compensated for our reviews. Click here for details. (link to your disclosure page)
- This post contains affiliate links, and I earn a small commission if you shop through them. This is how we help to make money so we can continue to bring you amazing content.
- This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something with these links, you are helping support (NAME OF YOUR BLOG HERE) at no additional cost to you.
- Affiliate links are included for your shopping convenience which earns commissions to help with the cost of supporting this blog.
- I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
- This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small financial compensation if you make a purchase using this link.
- My role as a blogger is to not only show you my favorite products and hand down my own tips and knowledge related to (name of item or company here) but it's to introduce my readers to new and exciting brands which I receive a small commission for if you buy through a link on this page.
- We adore sharing things we love with (YOUR BLOG NAME) readers. These aren't our products or companies that we are working with, but we thought it might be something that interests you. We do get a cut that keeps us in enough coffee to run this page 24 hours a day!
- Or you can use a photo disclosure:
Safely disclosing on Social Media:
Again it must be before any affiliate link.
As space may be limited on social media, you can use abbreviations a little more. Here is straight from the FTC on Twitter – The words “Sponsored” and “Promotion” use only nine characters. “Paid ad” only uses seven characters. Starting a tweet with “Ad:” or “#ad” – which takes only three characters – would likely be effective.
For Facebook, you can edit your Facebook description (not your meta description) in Yoast to have (sponsored) before the description.
If you want it in your post type, you can place it after the pitch but before the URL however if hey click before your disclosure because you've just hooked them then that might be considered as deceptive. Here are some suggested affiliate disclosures for Facebook:
- Ad: POST LINK
- Sponsored by @Brand XYZ: POST LINK
- Affiliate link: POST LINK
- Commission link: POST LINK
- POST (ad) LINK
- POST (sponsored) LINK
- POST (affiliate link) LINK
Pinterest and Instagram can most certainly put it in the description. However, there is one great trick you may want to consider. Put it just like a watermark on your photo as long as it shows in the feed and is big enough to read.
Where can you use affiliate links on a blog?
Affiliate links can be shared almost anywhere but make sure to check each companies rules in case they have restrictions, for instance, you cannot email Amazon Links.
- Social Media – Twitter, FB, Instagram and Pinterest (what is your best social media traffic driver?)
- Blog Pages – If you have lead in pages on your site like I do then you can place them on those. See Here
- Sidebars and Static Front Pages
- Create a Resource Page
- Blog Posts – You can not only put them in the body of a post but link them to photos or put banner ads at other places within a post. One great tip I learned to get content on an affiliate link is to look at reviews on Amazon to see what people like and don't like about a product. It might give you some great ideas of ways to talk about the product. Doing a breakfast recipe like pancakes? Why not do an amazon link with photo to a cookbook with 100 pancake recipes?
- Here are some post thought starters
- Create a course or series around a product ex: Cricut or Silhouette
- Do a comparison post
- Create a list post and include the product
- Intermingle a roundup with affiliate links
- Do a product giveaway
- Why I switched from X to Y
- Did you want ____? Tread these tips first
- Obscure facts you wish you knew about___________
- Everything I wish I knew about___________
- Here are some post thought starters
How to insert affiliate links on a blog post
All affiliate links on a blog post or attached to a photo must be NoFollow. This means that Google is being told not to give “juice” to that link because it's paid and not natural. You can use the NoFollow plugin, hard code it, or use a plugin like Pretty Links Pro. I love using Pretty Links Pro because it makes all of my links look like they came from my blog however it does not “cloak” your link.
Pretty Links Pro also allows you to link to keywords so for instance if you sell a Cricut machine and would like to link up every time the word Cricut is used on your blog you can easily do it with one entry on the advanced settings when you create a link.