One monetization strategy all bloggers should be implementing is affiliate marketing.
But, here’s the thing:
There is a right way and a wrong way to go about making money through affiliates.
Luckily, this short but powerful episode will show you the former, so you can increase your passive income by promoting brands you love and helping your community.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Where to find and apply for affiliate programs
- The biggest mistakes bloggers make when trying to promote affiliates
- Three strategies for getting people to click your affiliate links
- The best tactic for attracting readers who are ready to buy (credit card in hand!)
- A quick and simple hack for growing traffic to your affiliate posts
- How to increase your program earnings percentage
- The best way to use affiliate marketing to grow your blog fast
- And more!
Psst, don’t forget to pin this post for later!
Affiliate Marketing For Bloggers – Podcast Episode Audio
Listen to the full episode using this embedded player…
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To help you really jumpstart your blogging success, I’ve added 25+ blogging resources like printables, video tutorials and workbooks into a FREE resource library for travel bloggers.
The resources in this free library — which you can access here — can really help you start earning an income with affiliate marketing.
Grow Your Passive Income With Skimlinks
In this episode, I’ll be sharing a powerful strategy for choosing affiliate partners and content topics.
On top of what you’ll learn, I recommend joining Skimlinks.
Skimlinks is a set-it-and-forget-it platform. Simply join and add their code to your website, and they’ll turn your non-affiliate links into affiliate links automatically.
Honestly, setting this up took me less than 10 minutes, and started earning me passive affiliate income almost instantly.
As they work with 20,000+ merchants, you’ll likely be able to convert some links.
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Winners can choose from:
- How To Grow Your Blogging Income Through Facebook Ads
- How To Land Paid Press Trips As A Travel Blogger
- How To Make Money (Fast) With Affiliate Marketing
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How To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing – Episode 3 Transcript
The year was 2011.
I had just broken the news to my family and friends that instead of using my newly acquired Master’s Degree to get a swanky PR job in midtown Manhattan, I was going to pursue…
After my parents realized I wasn’t speaking Russian and that travel blogging was indeed a career path, they nervously asked me:
“But, how will you make money?”
I’ll admit that in those early days of blogging, I really had no clue.
Plus there weren’t nearly as many opportunities to earn an income as a blogger as there are today.
One method I did see others using was Google Adsense, which I never really got into. I didn’t really see many people actually making true income from it.
So I started to do more research to figure out what else was out there. There had to be a better way.
If you haven’t heard of it, affiliate marketing refers to promoting certain brands and earning a commission when a purchase is made through your special affiliate link.
What I’ve loved about this from the start is that I can promote brands I genuinely love and earn a commission at no extra cost to my readers.
Additionally, it’s passive income. Once you’ve placed the promotional content where you want it, the link can continue to bring you money for the foreseeable future.
The thing that I have learned over the years, though, is that there’s a right way to do affiliate marketing and a wrong way.
To help make sure that you pursue affiliate marketing the right way, I’ve created a step by step strategy that I’m going to share with you all right now.
Step #1: Apply to programs wisely.
To get an affiliate link from a company you need to first apply to be in their program.
Some brands host their own affiliate programs with applications, often found on the brand’s website footer.
Many others place their applications in affiliate marketplaces. Some of these include CJ.com, Refersion and Share-A-Sale.
These marketplaces feature thousands of potential affiliate brands, making it easy to simply apply to a ton, see which ones accept you, and then promote them.
The problem, though, is if you’re not particular about who you promote, it’ll likely end up being a waste of your time. This is especially true since you don’t get paid to be an affiliate partner until you make a sale.
Additionally, your readers may view you as trying too hard and be turned off.
A smarter strategy is to choose brands you actually love — and, most importantly, that your audience would truly benefit from using.
For me as a solo female traveler, highlighting safety products typically brings me a sizeable return on my time investment.
That being said, if I spent time highlighting a surfboard brand, there’s no indication that anyone in my audience would buy because I’m not a surfer and I never really write about surfing — aside for the one or two times that I’ve tried it and been terrible at it.
Keep in mind, you can also research white label affiliate programs that can turn your site or a page of your site into, say, a booking engine of some kind. Because it’s white label, it’ll make it look like your own software.
Step #2: Consider the payout amounts so you’re researching the affiliate programs of the brands you love.
Here’s the thing:
There are plenty of affiliate programs where the payout is incredibly low.
I’ve seen a few where clothing items would have earned me 10 cents each. I’d have to sell 10 pieces of clothing to even make $1 — and then I’d need to pay taxes on that.
Not worth it.
What you want to do is make a list of your potential programs and note what the payouts are for each, keeping the average cart value in mind.
After you’ve got your lists, do the math as to what you’d earn with one affiliate sale. What about five? Or 10?
Apply for the programs that will give you the biggest return on your time investment.
I don’t mean to repeat myself, but remember again to choose brands that your audience will actually be interested in because even if an affiliate pays you $50+ per sale, if it’s something your audience won’t even buy, it won’t be worth your time.
Also, remember that while the Amazon affiliate program offers low commission rates, people tend to check out with a lot of items in their cart, which can increase your payout.
Step #3: You want to create your content plan.
While there is nothing wrong with simply linking to your affiliates naturally when the occasion arises, if you really want to make money, you’ll want to be more strategic than that.
Yes, you’ll want to come up with blog post ideas that people truly want to read, but additionally, your main focus should be giving people a reason to click your links.
You want to attract those who would be interested in your affiliate partner while they’re reading your posts.
In my opinion, there are a few ways you can do this:
One is how-to posts.
Is there a tutorial you could give where the affiliate brand is the main focus?
For example, if you become an affiliate for Couchsurfing, you could do a tutorial on how to travel Europe for almost free using Couchsurfing.
Another option is sharing inspiring stories. You can use storytelling to highlight how a product enhanced your life personally.
Maybe as an Airbnb affiliate, you do a blog post on an amazing Airbnb castle you stayed at in France.
Or maybe you’re an affiliate for Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket-Proof Garments and you tell a story of how everyone in your tour group was robbed except you because you were wearing their tank top.
The other option — and this one is wildly powerful because you’re really capturing people with their credit card in hand — is to focus on buyer-intent keywords.
These are keywords that people are searching when they’re ready to buy and they have that credit card ready to swipe.
These are keywords like “best waterproof hiking backpacks” or comparing three brands; like if you’re searching for an email marketing client and you see “Mailchimp vs ConvertKit vs Infusionsoft”. The person searching that term is looking to pay for an email marketing client, so things like “best” or “verse” or “coupon”.
Moreover, when you create a gift guide for your blog and use a keyword like “best travel gifts” this is also a buyer-intent keyword.
All you have to do is Google “buyer intent keywords” and you’ll come up with a long list, but really think about what you could write that is targeting these people with buyer intent and make your affiliate partner the focus.
Once you pinpoint your post topics, put them into a content planner template to stay organized!
In short, learning how to find profitable niche keywords that attract buyers is well worth your time!
Step #4: Have good SEO.
Search engine optimization — or SEO — refers to optimizing posts to be found in online searches organically, meaning you’re not paying for advertising.
Having good SEO will also be what allows your affiliate marketing efforts to earn new passive income days, weeks, months, and even years after your promotional post has been published.
Now I’m not going to be diving too deep into SEO in this episode. There are tons of tutorials about it online, and I also teach about it in-depth in my Travel Blog Prosperity membership community.
For now, know that it is something that is important that you should focus on, especially if you want to make a sizeable income with affiliate marketing.
Step #5: Add a beautiful pin — and pin it.
While you’ll certainly want to promote your juicy blog posts across all social media channels, Pinterest is a must.
Because Pinterest works more like a search engine than a typical social media network.
Think of it as a visual Google.
This means you can use keyword-rich descriptions in your pins to rank higher in Pinterest search.
It also means that people on Pinterest are usually looking for solutions to problems, whether that be figuring out how to travel Europe on the cheap or how to travel safely through Colombia.
You’ll want to make your affiliate posts really easy to share on Pinterest by creating a vertical Pinterest optimized graphic with a gorgeous image that is relevant to your post and a text overlay.
As I said in a previous episode, you can make a graphic like this really easily in Canva, which is free to use and offer swipeable templates that you can kind of tweak to your own needs.
Without this, most people won’t share your post on Pinterest, even if it’s a great post. This is because Pinterest favors aesthetically-pleasing vertical pins.
Quite honestly, when I write a blog post, I usually include two or three pins. And later on, I’ll even go make new pins to kind of revive the post on Pinterest.
That’s how important using Pinterest really is.
And actually, in the free Travel Blogging Resource Library that I offer, I’ve got a great cheat sheet for Pinterest if you need.
Step #6: Make use of included tools.
Many bloggers don’t realize this, but opportunities to market your affiliate partners go beyond text links.
For instance, widgets are sometimes offered, such as a booking widget if your partner is a hotel booking website, or a quote generator if your partner is a travel insurance company.
So if you’re telling people how to travel Paris on $50 a day or less, you might include a hostel booking widget or Couchsurfing widget if available.
To find these tools, you’ll just check your affiliate dashboard once you’re accepted into a program to see what tools are made available to you to help with promotion.
You can also email your affiliate program manager. Many times when you join an affiliate program, you’ll be assigned somebody as your point of contact and you can just get in touch with them and say, “Hey, I’m interested in going beyond text links. What do you have to offer?”
Step #7: Include sources in your posts and let them know they were mentioned.
So once your post publishes, you want to let the affiliate partner know and ask them to share on their platforms.
Additionally, let any other sources and brands mentioned know, too.
So let’s go back to your content plan. You may even consider specifically seeking out other bloggers as sources.
For instance, I once wrote a post sharing 10 amazing stories that prove travel insurance is essential.
I shared stories from other bloggers and the goal was to promote a travel insurance partner.
Now after the post publishes, you want to email each source and let them know.
I recommend going a step further and making it really easy for them to share by including links.
So right now what I’ll do is I will read to you the exact template that I use when reaching out to people that have been mentioned in a post. Note: I actually have a virtual assistant who does this outreach, as you’ll see as I read this:
“My name is Daniela and I’m in charge of outreach for Jessie on a journey. I wanted to let you know that we have mentioned [BRAND] — and we actually say the brand — in a recent post.
Please click here to view it.
If you enjoy the post, we’d love if you could share it on your social networks. We’ll be doing the same on our end.
To make it easy, I’ve added a few quick links below.
Click here to tweet it.
Click here to share it on Facebook.
Click here to Repin it on Pinterest.
Click here to upvote it on Reddit.“
And what we do is we link to our original shares on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Teddit so that they can easily, in one click, just share. Otherwise, they might put it off and they might forget.
Step #8: Don’t forget your email list.
If you’ve been following this podcast, you know I am obsessed with email.
You should always be working to build your email list.
These will be your most passionate community members; not to mention the easiest to market to, as you already know they’re interested in what you talk about.
Now, when I say “market to your email list”, I don’t mean spamming them daily with affiliate promotions.
I mean choosing the affiliate partners that would truly benefit them. Then teach them a strategy for utilizing the product or tell them a story about how it’s helped you in real life so they can picture how it can help them.
Yes, you’re essentially writing a blog post, typically in a more conversational tone. You can even weave in storytelling email marketing or let your audience know about a relevant resource page you’ve created (that contains affiliate links).
And if you don’t yet have an email list, make sure to go back to the last episode where I share a step-by-step strategy for growing your email list for free as a blogger.
Step #9: Ask for a higher payout.
Here’s something many bloggers don’t realize:
When you’re doing well with an affiliate program, brands are often happy to give you more money.
Hey, you’re earning them income. It only makes sense that they’d want to keep you happy.
The more money you’re able to earn, the more time you’ll likely spend promoting them.
The thing is you’ll often need to ask for that higher payout; sort of like asking for a raise from your boss. So, ask away!
Keep in mind, too, that doing well with a program also makes it easier to pitch brand collaborations like hosting a free webinar or promoting a giveaway together. These partnerships can further help you grow your affiliate income.
All right, now I hope you enjoyed this video. Hopefully by now you see that this is one of the top ways to monetize a travel blog and take your blog full-time, and you feel inspired and empowered to go implement your own affiliate marketing strategy.
Don’t forget to grab access to the free Travel Blogger Resource Library.
I’ve got a ton of printables and resources inside that will help you with this strategy — including an affiliate marketing workbook. I’ve even got a template for reaching out to brands you’ve mentioned.
Also, make sure to subscribe for future episodes so you don’t miss a single profitable blogging strategy.
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