Strategic Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers (How to Make Money Blogging Day 2)

For Day 2 of this How to Make Money Blogging Series, I’m zooming in on one of other bloggers’ favorite ways to earn income on their blogs: affiliate marketing.

But let me tell you a secret: anyone can get affiliate links and sprinkle them around their blog. But making affiliate links convert? That all boils down to a good, easy – foolproof – strategy.

And because I’m sure you’re itching to find out how to use your blog to be a part of the affiliate goldmine, here’s everything you need to know about strategic affiliate marketing.

Read the rest of the How to Make Blogging Series
Affiliate marketing not working for you? That's probably because you need a more strategic approach. Learn easy affiliate marketing strategies here, perfect for new bloggers, so that you can use affiliate marketing to make money blogging.
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What is an affiliate?

To really understand how affiliate marketing works when you’re new to the world of blogging, you first need to understand what it means to be an affiliate. 

Think of a recent beauty vlogger you might have seen talking about a new line that a makeup brand is releasing. Maybe this vlogger happens to talk about all the products included in this line, making sure to be extra honest about what she likes and doesn’t like about certain items.

But here’s the kicker: before the end of the video, this vlogger turns to you, the viewer of her video, and says: And everyone who uses my code/checkout link gets 10% their first purchase! Insaaaane, right?!

That happens to be one kind of affiliate. Here’s a look at another kind.

My blogger friend Marina happens to be a huge art geek and often publishes post after post about her favorite materials and even fellow artists. And let’s say one artist Marina loves is launching an online course about the basics of floral watercolor – and invites my friend Marina to be an affiliate for the course.

Sweet! says Marina. And now she gets to earn 30% of any sale she refers to the floral watercolor course. That’s how affiliate marketing works!

Related: How I Made Money on the First Month of Blogging

Why should you consider affiliate marketing to monetize your blog?

While I agree that affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone – and absolutely no one should feel pressured to use affiliate marketing as a monetizing method for their blog! – there are a number of advantages I can think of. (I mean, you’re still reading this, aren’t you?)

Here are 2 reasons to consider affiliate marketing on your blog.

You don’t need to make your own products or services.

One beauty of affiliate marketing is that you’re helping promote somebody else’s product or service. That means you don’t need to make your own. I mean, how much time and effort and research would you need to do before launching your own stuff anyway?

Affiliate marketing works by letting you earn through other products and services you believe in, which is a huge plus if you really didn’t want to be making your own products in the first place.

Related: How to Know What Digital Product to Sell 

There’s an affiliate program for just about anything

No matter what product or service you want to promote, I guarantee there’s an affiliate program for just about anything you can think of.

And this is great news, especially because you can start a blog about whatever your heart desires and know that there’s an affiliate program out there for you to explore.

Important note: While I think affiliate marketing is a wonderful way for bloggers to make money blogging, I don’t recommend joining every affiliate program out there just because you can. I’ll explain why further down.

Related: How to Manage a Creative Business Even When You Work a Full-Time Job

But how do you become an affiliate for something in the first place?

Looking for opportunities to use affiliate marketing can leave you wondering where to start or even whether it’s possible as a beginner. And I’m here to tell you: you can totes be a beginner and be an affiliate to something, yo!

Sometimes a quick Google search on affiliate programs for newbies can give you a good nudge in the right direction, but I wouldn’t completely recommend taking on all of the results you find.

You see, while it’s one thing to apply for affiliate program after affiliate program, there’s still one key ingredient you’re missing – and this will totally make or break your affiliate marketing game: strategy.

You need to be strategic in your affiliate marketing for it to work. And while it may seem like a daunting task as a beginner, have no fear. Here, I walk you through 5 easy tips to come up with a successful affiliate marketing strategy.

Have a niche

I probably sound like a broken record for saying it over and over again but, if you’re going to be an affiliate to anything that actually earns through your referrals, you’re going to need a niche.

In case you need to know the many advantages of having one, you can check out my super detailed post on finding your next profitable niche here.

And when it comes to affiliate marketing, a niche helps you out in two ways, those being: 1) figuring out which affiliate programs to actually apply for, and; 2) coming across as a credible blogger.

Figure out which affiliate programs to apply for

Say you decide that your blogging niche is going to be a parenting blog for young moms. That’s great! You’ve got your sights set on something specific, and young moms will often turn to the advice of fellow, more experienced moms on the interwebs.

So as you’re looking for affiliate programs to join (because, hey, you want your blog to pay for itself and then some, am I right?!), you shouldn’t have too big a problem.

For one thing, you already know who your readers are going to be – so you know what they might be looking for. Is it a baby carrier? A bath tub?

Whatever your niche may be, think about anything your audience might already be looking to buy and recommend it to them. A lot of brands will already have affiliate programs in place, so that’s already a big bonus!

Related: How to Find a Profitable Niche as a New or Frustrated Blogger

Come across as a credible blogger

If you stumble upon a cooking blog and find a bunch of affiliate links to fashion brands and blogging courses, you’d probably go…huh?

I’d have the same reaction, to be honest.

While it’s easy to fall into the trap of signing up for every affiliate program you find because you think it’d be the fastest way to make money from your blogging, let me stop you right there because that’s not how affiliate marketing works.

By promoting any and every product you have a link for – with no care whatsoever about your niche and who your readers are – you’ll most likely have no luck making any successful referrals.

People are going to see your affiliate links and not understand why you’re promoting them in the first place. This looks sleazy and inauthentic – and even if you do use all these products you’re an affiliate of, you won’t come across as a credible blogger.

Ways to promote your affiliate products

So you’ve got products you want to be an affiliate for – great! And you’ve been approved into those affiliate programs – double great!

Now you have to promote those affiliate products to start raking in the dough. Should be a piece of cake, right?

Not necessarily. But hey, I got you. Here are 5 handy ways you can promote just about any affiliate product out there!

1. Write a resource post featuring the product
Example of a resource post on an affiliate product

If the product is something you know a lot about, write a blog post on how to use it or make the most of it.

For example, you might be an affiliate to Convertkit like I am. If it fits your niche, you can write a blog post that guides your readers in setting up their email list or opt-in forms or welcome sequence step-by-step.

Important: if you’re wondering whether or not to do a certain blog post because a ton of other people are already doing it, I still recommend trying it out. After all, your readers might be turning to your blog for resources on that topic – so you don’t want to deprive yourself of the opportunity!

2. Do a roundup list featuring multiple products
Example of a roundup post – all the examples are affiliate links!

If you’re a part of multiple affiliate programs, see for a second if there’s something that ties a few or all of them together. Then you can write a roundup post featuring those products.

You might be a fashion blogger, and you’re an affiliate to a streetwear brand you adore. You can do a roundup post of, say, 10 different summer outfit ideas or 5 jackets every girl must have.

Just think of something your readers would love to read, and then come up with content promoting your affiliate products!

3. Create a resource page
Here’s my own resource page!

If your niche allows for it, you can come up with a resource page. (On a related note, here’s my own resource page of must-have tools for every solopreneur – check it out and let me know what your own faves are!)

This is quite common in business and blogging niches, but I don’t see how you can’t do the same even if your niche is in the lifestyle spectrum. Travel and fashion bloggers, for example, can come out with a resource about their all-time favorite brands and items. Or you can promote your evergreen discount codes.

4. Promote them to your email list

I’ll never get tired of saying this:

Your money is in your list!

And what that means is the people who subscribe to your newsletter, read your emails, click your links are the people who trust you. In fact, some might even love you enough to buy into your affiliate products, knowing that they’ll be supporting you along the way.

A lot of email providers let you include affiliate links in your emails, so unless your provider doesn’t allow for it, then there should be no problem at all.

Related: How to Grow Your Email List with Multiple Opt-in Freebies

5. Use social media

Hey, you gotta make all that time you spend on Facebook and Instagram worth it, right? If you’ve got a Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram account, encourage your followers to use your affiliate links with a related post.

You can do this through a Pinned Tweet, or a Facebook Highlight, or – if you have enough followers – an Instagram story.

How do you promote affiliate products without seeming sleazy?

There are a couple of things I’d suggest doing.

First, be clear when you’re promoting affiliate links

There are different ways to do this. Sometimes it’s as simple as inserting a hashtag like #affiliatelink at the end of your post for people to know you get a small commission from their purchase.

Or, what I prefer to do, is to be more transparent about affiliate links to begin with. So I usually insert a short affiliate disclaimer in all my posts, since they might contain a few links to products I’m an affiliate for.

Here’s a swipe of my affiliate disclaimer that you can copy and tweak to suit your own voice:

Disclaimer: This blog post may contain some affiliate links, where I get a small commission at no additional cost to you. These modest commissions help me keep this blog running and doing what I do, so if you should use my link, I’d like to say thank you in advance!

There’s honestly nothing wrong with being transparent either! Besides, there may be laws in your country that require you to disclose any affiliate links anyway, so it’s best to be safe.

Second, only recommend products you trust

Like I said before, it might be tempting to sign up for every affiliate program out there, but be warned that not all these products and services may be good enough to recommend. Again, that’s not how affiliate marketing works – or at least, not how it works best.

If you can, try out the product or service yourself to see if it’s worth recommending. While you don’t need to pay for every product you’re an affiliate for, be sure you at least trust the brand enough to suggest it to your readers.

After all, you want to build trust, and trust pays off in the long run.

So by promoting affiliate links of products and services you’ve done your research on, you’re telling your readers that you really have their best intentions at heart. After all, would you trust a blogger that promoted a service or product they knew nothing about and just wanted a quick dollar for?

Focus on building trust before building your affiliate program repertoire. Then you’ll see people willing to support your blog enough to purchase through your links.

Read the rest of the How to Make Money Blogging series:

How affiliate marketing works

So there you have it: a comprehensive guide to how affiliate marketing works and how you can make it work using a good, clean strategy.

As a special bonus, check out my Ultimate Guide to Profitable Blogging, which walks you through all the things you need to start monetizing and growing even a brand-new blog

Bonus: Find different affiliate programs even new bloggers can join!

I did all the dirty work for you, now you just need to steal my secrets. 😉

Mica is the face behind everything you see at her blog, Mind of Mica. She champions the goal-getters, the dream-chasers, and the unapologetic hustlers who are out to make a difference – even if it’s in their own lives.