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Affiliate Marketing Strategies for Beginners
Are you thinking about joining an affiliate program? Are you already an affiliate who’s trying to increase your earnings? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then this interview is for you! To learn more about affiliate marketing, I interviewed Dale Persons from Blogging Her Way so she could share her entrepreneur journey, affiliate marketing mistakes to avoid, her top tips for affiliate marketing, and how her ebook can help bloggers like you and me make money with affiliate marketing. Check out the interview below!
Can you tell us about yourself and your online business?
Hello! I’m Dale, and I run Blogging Her Way, an online resource for bloggers and entrepreneurs. In addition to Blogging Her Way, I have started four other successful blogs (two of which I later sold for a profit). My goal is to help other bloggers achieve their goals and make money doing something they love.
What inspired you to start your blog and business?
I was a broke college student when I first started researching blogging and other ways to make money online. I knew I wanted to start my own business so I could work for myself and pay off my student loans (which I was able to do in less than nine months thanks to blogging!).
How did you get started with affiliate marketing?
When I very first started my business, I intended to offer web design services for bloggers. I quickly realized that I didn’t enjoy doing web design, but I was fascinated with the idea of affiliate marketing.
I decided to shift my focus to blogging and affiliate marketing. Instead of offering web design services for bloggers, I became an affiliate for web hosting and WordPress themes and created content for bloggers who wanted to take a DIY approach to web design. That’s how I got my start in affiliate marketing.
What do you like and dislike about affiliate marketing?
The main thing I like about affiliate marketing is how easy it is to get started. It doesn’t require the work of creating and marketing your own product—you are just promoting someone else’s product and earning a commission on every sale.
It can also be quite passive once you get the hang of it. I have blog posts that I wrote in one day over a year ago that still bring me consistent income every month.
The biggest thing I dislike about affiliate marketing is that you have no control over the terms of an affiliate program. For example, the Amazon affiliate program recently cut commission rates on certain categories of products. And some travel companies have recently slashed commission rates or suspended their affiliate programs altogether.
Unfortunately, as an affiliate, you have no control over this. An affiliate program can cut commission rates, change their terms, or shut down altogether. This is something to keep in mind because it’s an uncertainty you don’t experience with other streams of income (such as selling your own product).
What are some of the mistakes you see people making with affiliate marketing?
Affiliate Marketing Mistake #1: Not understanding search intent.
This is a HUGE mistake I see many bloggers make with affiliate marketing. What do I mean by search intent exactly?
Here’s an example: Recently, I was reading a blog post from a travel blogger about things to do in Cinque Terre, Italy and she had affiliate links for her suitcase and some other travel gear in the blog post.
Later, I saw this same blogger complaining in a Facebook group for travel bloggers that she wasn’t making any money from her blog.
The reason for this is probably her misunderstanding of search intent. Think about it; someone who searches for “things to do in Cinque Terre” on Google or Pinterest probably isn’t looking to purchase luggage. They’re just looking for things to do on their vacation.
Meanwhile, someone searching for “what to pack for Italy” is more likely to be in a shopping state of mind and ready to buy things for their vacation. Affiliate links to luggage and travel gear would probably be a lot more profitable in a blog post about what to pack for Italy instead.
That’s search intent. Once you understand it, affiliate marketing becomes a whole lot easier.
Affiliate Marketing Mistake #2: Not providing valuable problem-solving content to your audience.
Another big mistake that bloggers make with affiliate marketing is not creating the right kind of content.
So many new bloggers just write blog posts about themselves or their lives, like a personal diary. Unfortunately, those are not the kind of blogs that make money.
People probably don’t want to read about your day-to-day life (unless you’re a celebrity!) But they DO want to find helpful, valuable information that answers a question or solves a problem they might have.
This goes back to search intent like I talked about above. Think about what your target audience needs help with and what they’re looking for. How can you help them? How can you solve a problem for them? How can you provide value? Keep that in mind when you’re creating content for your blog.
For example, let’s say you’re a mom and you have a blog targeted at pregnant women/new moms. Your target audience might be wondering what to pack in their hospital bag for going to the hospital to give birth.
You could write a blog post addressing this (e.g. What to Pack in a Hospital Bag for Baby) and use affiliate links for each product on the list. You’re helping your target audience and solving a problem for them, and at the same time making money from affiliate sales.
Crazy enough, one of the most common mistakes I see bloggers making is simply not using enough affiliate links.
A lot of affiliate marketing advice you’ll read will warn against over-using affiliate links, and I think this scares a lot of bloggers. Of course, it’s true to an extent. You don’t want every other sentence in your blog post to contain an affiliate link or to sound too pushy trying to make a sale.
But the truth is, it’s okay to use a lot of affiliate links in your blog posts, on social media, etc. You NEED to if you want to start making consistent affiliate sales. In fact, I rarely write a blog post that doesn’t contain affiliate links.
As long as you’re providing value to your audience as discussed above, and you’re promoting high-quality products that you really believe in, it should be okay.
I’ve actually had my readers email me to thank me for using affiliate links and say they made sure to purchase through my affiliate link because I made such a great product recommendation and they wanted me to get credit for it.
So don’t be afraid to start using more affiliate links in your content. (Just always be sure it’s a natural fit and doesn’t sound forced!)
What are your top three tips for getting started with affiliate marketing?
Affiliate Marketing Tip #1: Focus on your core affiliates.
I recommend choosing no more than 5-7 affiliate programs to join when you get started and focus on promoting those only.
I earn money from probably 25+ different affiliate programs, but the majority of my affiliate income actually comes from a small handful of those.
You are better off choosing a few affiliate programs to work with than spreading yourself too thin trying to join a million different ones.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #2: Write affiliate-friendly content.
This tip goes along with affiliate marketing mistake #1 above!
Make sure the blog posts you write align with your reader’s search intent if you want to actually make affiliate sales. For example, let’s say you have a blog all about graduation parties (super specific topic, I know).
You may want to write a blog post about tips for planning a graduation party, but someone searching for “graduation party planning tips” isn’t going to have the same search intent as someone searching for “graduation gift ideas” or “graduation party decorations.” Those last two keyword terms are more likely to convert to affiliate sales in a blog post because the reader would already be in a purchasing mindset.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #3: Invest in affiliate marketing resources.
There’s a lot of great free info online about affiliate marketing, but there is also a lot of bad info ranging from unhelpful to just downright scammy.
While affiliate marketing is something you can probably figure out on your own, I found it very helpful to invest in additional resources (like online courses and ebooks from bloggers I trust) to speed up the process and learn strategies I might not have discovered on my own.
What affiliate programs do you recommend bloggers join to make money with their blogs?
I recommend Skimlinks for new bloggers who want to make money with their blogs. It’s a huge affiliate network that instantly gives you access to hundreds of different affiliate programs and automatically converts links in your blog posts into affiliate links.
Another good choice is the Amazon affiliate program. Despite the recent commission rate cuts I mentioned above, this is overall still one of the best affiliate programs for bloggers. What Amazon lacks in high commission rates, they make up for in sheer volume.
Almost everyone shops on Amazon, and they are experts at closing the sale. All you have to do as a blogger is send traffic their way. One great thing about the Amazon affiliate program is that you also earn a commission on everything someone adds to their cart (not just the product they originally clicked on).
Both Skimlinks and Amazon are good choices for bloggers in any niche.
Can you tell us about your ebook, Amazon Affiliate Affluence, and how others can use it to make money with Amazon?
Absolutely! I wrote Amazon Affiliate Affluence to share my strategies for going from $0 to $500+ a month from the Amazon affiliate program.
As I mentioned above, the Amazon affiliate program is a great way for any blogger to make money. For a while, I struggled to make money as an Amazon affiliate (I’m talking $2 in a month) but I started testing new things and before I knew it I was making hundreds of dollars a month from the Amazon affiliate program.
If you want to learn how to make money from the Amazon affiliate program on your blog, this ebook is for you.
Can both new and advanced bloggers use your Amazon Affiliate Affluence ebook?
Yes, the ebook contains all the info that beginners need to know, as well as advanced affiliate marketing strategies that will benefit more experienced bloggers. Both new and advanced bloggers will find this useful.
In addition to your Amazon Affiliate Affluence ebook, do you offer any other products or services for bloggers?
I have an online course called 30 Days to Blogging Success that is perfect for brand-new bloggers. If you are totally lost on how to start a blog, this will help you start your blog the right way so you can make money blogging.
Editor’s Note: Dale also has another ebook called Get Paid to Pin that you can use to make affiliate sales on Pinterest.
If you’re new to affiliate marketing or need help with making money with the Amazon affiliate program, then I recommend that you get Dale’s ebook, Amazon Affiliate Affluence. This ebook includes no-fluff, practical tips on:
- What you need to have before you apply to become an Amazon affiliate
- How to apply to the Amazon affiliate program
- Amazon Affiliate Secrets (this section is my favorite and worth the price of the book alone)
- Tips for writing blog posts that contain affiliate links
- Types of blog posts that make money
- How to use Amazon affiliate links on social media
- And more!
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Over to You: Affiliate Marketing Tips for Beginners
Are you an affiliate for Amazon? What are some of the mistakes you’ve made (or seen others make) with affiliate marketing? What tips do you use to make money with affiliate marketing? Share your answers with us in the comments below!