How to Make Serious Money With Affiliate Marketing

(This post contains affiliate links – please see my disclosure policy in the footer).


Affiliate marketing is my number one way of making money online (I’ll explain why below).

I first heard about it around 5 years back and made my first affiliate sale around 6 months later.

I was thinking back to that day recently and it suddenly dawned on me – since I started affiliate marketing, there hasn’t been one month where I haven’t made at least one sale.

The surprising thing about this is that I only started this blog (where I now do most of my affiliate marketing) in May 2019.

Before that time, I had just been leveraging affiliate marketing using Facebook. I wasn’t even using a Facebook business or fan page account either. Just a regular, good old personal account.

More surprising still, before starting this blog, I hadn’t actually promoted any affiliate products on Facebook (or anywhere else) for almost 2 years ?

Despite this, I was still making a bit of extra cash on the side every month through recurring commissions.

That’s the power of this gig!

With the right affiliate product, work you’ve done several years ago can carry on bearing fruits for years to come, even when you’re not doing anything to maintain it.

Some say that true passive income is a myth, but I think that’s bullshit! Ok, you have to put the hard work in first, but once you’ve done that, the cash can keep rolling in as my above example shows.

Affiliate marketing is not just a small side earner either. It’s very lucrative and can easily become your full time occupation if you’re good at it.

I now make around a $1000 a month through affiliate marketing on this blog! That’s after 6 months. I spend about 10 hours a week on this blog.

Better still, I can think of quite a few people making millions of dollars per year with it.

So what will this article explore?

  • What affiliate marketing is;
  • Why it’s a great way of earning money online;
  • Where to promote affiliate products;
  • The financial possibilities and notable success stories;
  • Which affiliate products to promote;
  • The different types of affiliate program;
  • How to succeed and even earn a 6 figure yearly income through affiliate marketing.

If that’s wet your whistle, and you’re interested to learn more about affiliate marketing, then let’s delve a bit deeper.

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What Exactly is Affiliate Marketing?

I may have jumped the gun slightly by presuming you already know what it is. If I have, I’ll quickly explain.

Affiliate marketing is a way of earning money by promoting a company’s or individual’s product or service.

As an a affiliate of that product or service, you’ll be given a web link to the website selling that product or service called an affiliate link.

When someone, say a visitor to your blog or website, clicks that affiliate link and goes on to purchase the product or service you’re promoting, you will earn a commission.

Affiliate marketing is essentially a way that creators of products or services can boost their sales by outsourcing the marketing of their product or service to others (affiliates) in exchange for sharing a slice of the sale price with the affiliate who brings in the sale.


Why is Affiliate Marketing so Great?

As I’ve said above, affiliate marketing is my favourite way of making money online. It has literally changed my life by opening up a money pit that, until 5 years ago, I never even knew existed.

This is what I love about it:

  • The product you’re promoting is already good to go – you don’t need to create anything or build a brand – that’s already taken care of;
  • You never have to worry about returns, complaints or faulty products – those problems are all dealt with by the vendor;
  • You can ride on the back of the success and reputation of the product you’re promoting;
  • You don’t have to worry about updating the product – that is done by the vendor;
  • You can begin very early on in your blogging journey, meaning you can start making money almost immediately;
  • It’s passive once you’ve got traffic – you can literally make money in your sleep;
  • It’s extremely cost effective.

Where to Promote Affiliate Products?

The most obvious one that I suspect most people reading this will already realise, is on your blog or website.

Affiliate marketing usually makes up a good proportion of a blogger’s income. Indeed, it currently makes up all of mine as I am not yet using advertising.

Unlike other forms of blog monetization (such as advertising), affiliate marketing is something that you can usually start straight away, even at the very beginning of your blogging journey when you have limited traffic.

This is invaluable as making those initial affiliate sales when you’ve just started blogging, spurs you on and motivates you. It literally wipes away the apprehensions that most bloggers have about whether blogging can actually make them money. It eases that nagging question that all new bloggers have – “am I wasting my time?

Some affiliate programs do require a certain level of traffic before allowing you on board but there plenty that don’t care.

Even if you don’t have a blog, that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage affiliate marketing.

You can also use the following:-

  • Email affiliate marketing – although you’ll generally need a large email list to begin with;
  • Social media marketing. I made all of my first affiliate sales, which totalled $3500, just putting affiliate links on Facebook. You can see how I did this here – this just shows you can make money with affiliate marketing where ever you have an online audience;
  • Pinterest – Yup, you don’t need a blog to leverage affiliate marketing on Pinterest. You can direct your pins straight to your affiliate links.


Can it Really Make Money?

That’s a resounding yes!

I have made several thousand dollars from this blog with affiliate marketing already. That’s since May 2019 when I first started it. I have made most of that in the last 3 months since the traffic to my blog has started to pick up. I earned pretty much nothing for the first 3 months.

Even so, the truth is, what I have made so far is chicken feed compared to what some other bloggers are making by using the power of affiliate marketing.

Brace yourself, because some of these figures are insane:-

  • Donnie and Abby Lawson – Just a Girl and Her Blog – $40,000 a month with most of that coming from affiliate sales
  • Ryan Robinson – $40,000 – $50,000 per month – Most of that coming from the BlueHost web hosting affiliate program
  • Michelle Schroeder-Gardner – Making Sense of Cents – $100,000+ per month from mainly the BlueHost web hosting affiliate program
  • Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income – $200,000 per month, 40% of which comes from affiliate marketing
  • Alex and Lauren – Create & Go and Avocadu – $130,000 per month, 50% of which comes from affiliate marketing

Just think about some of those figures for a minute ? – WOW!


Which Affiliate Products Should I Promote?

A pretty important question I would say!

The answer is; products that the visitors to your blog or website want and are willing to purchase or sign up to.

That might sound like the obvious answer but it’s really important that you focus the products you’re promoting on the needs and wants of your audience.

It’s pretty pointless promoting a weight loss course on a financial blog. Similarly, you wouldn’t promote weight gain and bulking powder on a mom blog.

Why? – Because your visitors are visiting your website or blog for a particular purpose. Usually because they want to achieve something that your blog can assist them with.

You therefore need to target products that will help your audience achieve their goals.

This is one of the main reasons why not every blog niche out there can be profitable with affiliate marketing.

For example, blogs about mental health or geology are unlikely to be very profitable as:-

a) people visiting those blogs aren’t generally looking to spend money and

b) there’s not much you can sell them even if they were.

The good thing is that there are still plenty of blog niches out there that are perfect for affiliate marketing. If you want to learn more about starting a blog and which niches make money, then you can check out my 5000 word guide here.

Choosing which products to promote does take a while so it’s important that you spend some time researching them before you start your campaign.

? My top tip is to look at popular blogs in your chosen niche. I can almost guarantee you that 50% + of the products those bloggers are promoting are affiliate products.

The Two Main Ways of Accessing Affiliate Products

Affiliate Networks: These are large companies that have many brands on their books. You sign up to the network and you can get access to those brands, although some you will need to apply for. My favourite affiliate networks and the ones I use are:-

  • Offer Juice (previously i-gain) – This is great for financial blogs as it has lot’s of survey companies and money making/saving apps to promote;
  • Impact Radius – Another awesome affiliate network for financial bloggers and many other niches;
  • ShareaSale – A network with thousands of products and services to promote. This one will cover most niches;
  • Amazon Associates – I will count this as a network as the affiliate program incorporates thousands of products sold on Amazon, rather than just one;
  • Flex Offers – Another that has tons of products for all niches.

Individual Programs: These are individual companies that have their own “in-house” affiliate program. In another words they run their affiliate program outside of a network just from their own marketing department. Some of my favourites are:-

  • Survey Junkie – This is my number one affiliate program which makes me $500 – $1000 each month. They are a very reputable survey company with a 5 star TrustPilot rating so I am happy to promote them. It’s super easy to sign up to and they pay by PayPal every month;
  • BlueHost – This web hosting company have a great affiliate program that pays a minimum of $65 for each sign up. You’ll notice from the section above that many bloggers are killing it with this program;
  • Elegant Themes – The company that produces the awesome Divi WordPress theme. They are a great affiliate program for those blogging about blogging or anything web related.


Some Affiliate Programs are Better than Others

Unfortunately not all affiliate programs offer the same terms. Here’s a quick summary of the different types:-

Multi-tiered Recurring Programs: You make a commission from the products your referral buys and also from the products your referral promotes and sells! The commissions are recurring meaning you get payment every time your referral purchases the product again or stays as a paying customer or member.

Multi-tiered Programs: You make a commission from the products your referral buys and also from the products your referral promotes and sells! Only this time the payment is a one off so there’s no recurring commission if your referral purchases again or stays a paying member.

Recurring Programs: You only get the commission from the product your referral buys but the commissions are recurring meaning you get payment every time your referral purchases the product again or stays as a paying member.

One Off Payment: You get a one time only commission when your referral buys the product you’re promoting.

One Off payment With Time Limited Cookie: You get a one time only commission when your referral buys the product you’re promoting within a limited time. If your referral doesn’t purchased within, say, 24 hours (or whatever the time limit is) but purchases after that time, you get sweet FA!

There are several variances of these different types of affiliate program and they sometimes do overlap, but that is the general gist of the different types of terms you’ll encounter.

? Top Tip

It’s important that you check the terms of each affiliate program you join so there are no surprises. Obviously the ones with recurring commissions are the ones to look out for. As per my example in the introduction to this blog, these types of program will keep paying as long as your referral stays a customer.


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How to Succeed and Even Make 6 Figures With Affiliate Marketing On Your Blog or Website

Three words that are absolutely crucial to making a success of affiliate marketing – Traffic, Traffic, Traffic!

Unfortunately that’s just a hard cold fact of life when it comes to affiliate marketing.

It’s a numbers game. You need enough eyes on the products you’re promoting to let probability do its thing.

What I mean by that is quite simple – in order for there be a chance of someone clicking your affiliate link and buying something, there needs to be enough people given the opportunity to do so. When you get good volumes of traffic, probability dictates that at least a handful will click your link and a smaller proportion will also go on to buy something to secure you that precious commission.

Unfortunately, there’s no quick way of getting traffic to your blog or website. But it’s definitely possible and quite easily doable in my experience.

This blog is 6 months old and has had 64,000 page views in the last 17 days. I expect by the end of the month it will have had 100,000 page views.

That’s been achieved by working on this blog in the evening and at weekends whilst working in full time employment as a lawyer in the day.

If I can do it, you can too. I really mean that as I know that what I’ve done is nothing novel or unique at all. On a sliding scale of difficult things I’ve done in my life, blogging is nowhere near the top.

In fact, I knew nothing about blogging just 6 months ago. It just takes a bit of dedication and a stubborn attitude.

When you’ve got that precious traffic to your blog or website, then a 6 figure yearly income is definitely within your grasp.

Realistically you’re probably going to need 200,000 visitors to your blog or website a month if you’re looking to earn solely through affiliate marketing. Although this will depend on the products you promote and your proficiency as an affiliate marketer.

However, if I can get 100,000 visitors a month in only 6 months blogging, there’s no reason why you can’t get the same and even double or triple that in 12 months.

(I don’t intend to discuss how to boost your traffic in this article and I would suggest reading my guide on how to set up a successful blog and my guide to using Tailwind for further info about this.)

How to Improve Your Affiliate Game!

Even when you’ve got enough eyes on your content, that’s not the end of the work. The money isn’t just going to roll in.

To make money in this racket, what you need is a strategy!

This means not just posting affiliate links on your website or blog willy-nilly. You need to give yourself the best chance of your link being clicked otherwise your traffic will be wasted.

Here’s what works for me and will work for you:-

  • Ensure that affiliate links are on almost every page of your blog or website. You want every visitor to be exposed to at least one affiliate link whilst they are on your site. The bottom line is, not every visitor will look at every page on your site so it’s important that they see affiliate links on the pages they do visit. This blog has around 2 page views per visitor. It would be pretty unproductive from an affiliate marketing point of view if I only had affiliate links on one page. It’s simple maths – the more links your visitors see, the more clicks you’ll get;
  • Keep your affiliate links relevant to the article you’re writing about, but not exclusively. For example, if you run a health blog and write an article about how to lose weight with supplements, then you might want an affiliate link to weight loss supplements in that article. However, you could also include an affiliate link to a weight loss book you’re promoting too. You might post this in bracketed text or in an info box titled “other ideas” or “other ways to lose weight”. If your reader is looking for ways to lose weight, then chances are they are going to be open to other ideas, and not just those which the article your visitor is reading deals with. This gives your visitor another opportunity to click one of your affiliate links whilst still saying relevant to their needs;
  • Tell a story! What sounds more convincing to someone trying to lose weight – “you can lose 20lbs in 2 weeks with this supplement” or “I lost 20lbs in 2 weeks with this supplement”? Obviously the latter as people are generally more convinced when you’re speaking from experience. This invites your reader to think “if they’ve done it, why can’t I?“. It also acts as evidence to your reader of the product doing what it should;
  • Ensure your website or blog is updated, aesthetically pleasing and relevant. Affiliate marketing is a lot about trust. Your reader is going be much more willing to act on your product recommendations if your website or blog looks credible and up to date. If it looks amateurish or outdated then your reader is more likely to just bounce, never to be seen again;
  • If you get a special or exclusive price on your promoted products, let your readers know. People love a bargain. If your visitors are told they are getting a product cheaper from you, then they’re much more likely to follow through on your recommendation, click your link and secure you that lovely commission;
  • Be an authority. Your readers are much more likely to buy your promoted products if you come across as someone who knows what they are talking about. So write clearly, cover the product in detail and be convincing;
  • Promote a variety of products. By this I am talking about small and big ticket items. Some will disagree, and this may not apply to all niches, but I think it’s important that you diversify your affiliate products and have ones that are less valuable but are more easy to sell, as well as more valuable ones that will secure you a bigger commission but are harder to sell. By doing this you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket and your income should be more consistent;
  • Promote products with a proven affiliate track record. You need to sniff out what sells. The easiest way to do this is to check what the other bloggers or competitors in your niche are promoting. You should be able to spot their best selling products because they’ll likely feature more often on their blog/site. If they’re kind, they might also tell you.

Get traffic, employ some of the these strategies, don’t be too over the top or “salesy” and you will make money. I can almost guarantee you of that!


Conclusion

When it comes to making money online, there’s little doubt that affiliate marketing is one of the most accessible, rewarding and even fun ways to do it!

Yes, you’ll need traffic, but once that comes, and believe me, it will if you commit enough time, then there’s not many better ways to make not only some money, but potentially huge amounts of the stuff!

In my view, there’s not many better feelings in this world than waking up from a long night’s sleep to find that you’re $100 richer than when you shut your eyes!


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