What is affiliate marketing? Are you new to the idea? Here’s the easiest way to get started – and an explanation of this important marketing technique. Note: This post contains affiliate links.
Whether you’re a blogger, social media influencer, or both, affiliate marketing may be a key component for your business. It’s the way that most bloggers make the bulk of their income, and it’s a flexible and semi-passive way to earn. Many bloggers make 6-figure monthly incomes from affiliate marketing alone!
But you might be here because you’re wondering, “What is affiliate marketing, and why do I keep hearing about it?” If you’re new to blogging (whether it has to do with fitness or not), the term affiliate marketing may seem foreign and intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be!
Related Reading: How to Make Money Blogging (Fitness Related or Not)
What Is Affiliate Marketing Anyway?
I’m here to clarify your confusion and answer your questions, because I remember being confused about it a few years ago. I had a ton of questions when I started looking for ways to make money online. They were things like:
- Can I really make money online?
- Can I really make money blogging?
- How do I start a blog?
- What is affiliate marketing?
- How do I become an affiliate for a company?
Now affiliate marketing is my favorite way to make money blogging. Once I figured out how to do it and learned about the many ways to make money blogging, the question of, “What is affiliate marketing?” is a distant memory.
That’s because affiliate marketing is just like most types of marketing – you’re just trying to sell a product. You can appeal to many different consumer groups and earn money by selling products – and the sky is the limit.
So again, what is affiliate marketing?
Here’s the gist: I love a product. I tell people (my readers and fans) about that product. They buy it using me as their referral source (or link online). I make a commission. THAT’S IT.
It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. I link to products I love or review them on my site. Then I promote my blog and people buy stuff. I then get a percentage of the sale! I love making money this way because it can be super versatile and lucrative, too.
Related Reading: 5 Virtual Product Ideas for Fitness Bloggers
How Affiliate Marketing Works in Blogging
Let’s go a little more in depth now. You may already understand that affiliate marketing is simply word-of-mouth marketing – only it’s online. But how do you actually implement affiliate marketing online in order to make money?
The answer is links and cookies.
(Don’t get overwhelmed – because it’s easy once you try it – and I’m going to explain it all!)
You can become an affiliate for almost anything out there. What happens when you become an affiliate for a product or brand is that you receive unique tracking links that take potential buyers from your site/profile to the product site.
Then, cookies come into play. The are invisible things that keep track of the (online) path a buyer takes.
I like to think of it like Hansel and Gretel – the cookies are like a little trail and they are what give you proper credit for a sale, thus earning you a commission.
They keep track of an individual’s internet history and connect back to your special links.
So if I mention a certain product on social media or my blog with my unique links, then someone make’s a purchase, I earn a commission because of those cookies.
Important Tip: The longer the cookie, the better! If you join an affiliate program that has a 30-day cookie, this means that they will track purchases from your links up to 30 days. This is better than a 24 hour cookie because you can earn credit even if it took a consumer several weeks to decide to make a purchase.
How Can I Implement My Affiliate Links?
Now that we’ve moved past the whole, “What is affiliate marketing?” question, let’s talk about the various ways to do it online.
ALL affiliate marketing requires unique tracking links, but there are different ways to present them. Here are a few:
You can use banners (or any images) on your blog.
These might look just like display ads that you see on any old website. But they are usually chosen and placed manually (by you) and don’t earn you money based on impressions like a lot of regular ads. These banners can come in many sizes – here is an example of a “leaderboard” banner:
You can use images on Pinterest.
These can be any image that’s simply linked with your unique tracking URL. I like to use images provided by the advertisers I partner with and upload them to Pinterest when I don’t have my own images. Here’s an example of one that I have uploaded on Pinterest and am saving regularly to my boards:
You can also insert links on FB or Twitter.
Really, you can share things you want on all of your social media accounts. You just have to disclose. Tip: Use an image to get more people’s attention.
You can use normal text links like this one in blog posts or anywhere, really.
You can use *almost* any of those links in emails to subscribers to your blog.
When people opt-in to receive your email updates, you can send them affiliate links in emails. (Amazon is an example of one affiliate program that doesn’t allow it.) You can mention something cool that’s on sale, something new you’ve discovered, etc. This is one of the best ways to use affiliate marketing because when you market to someone who is already interested in your blog, they are already invested in you. Pretty exciting!
The Easiest Way to Get Started
The easiest way for a new blogger to get started with affiliate marketing is as simple as joining an affiliate network like ShareASale. The advantage of joining an affiliate network is that you can represent many brands at once using only one program. So instead of joining 10 different programs on 10 different websites (and getting paid at 10 different times), you can be a part of all of those programs in one place.
ShareASale was one of the first networks I’ve joined and the only network I’ve had actual income from (more than a few pennies). It’s simply because they have some of the best, biggest programs housed there and so I’ve focused my time there. There are so many programs within their network that any blogger could find something appropriate for their audience with them.
You can, however, find a lot of other programs and networks, and I talk about many of them in this post.
Tips to Boost Your Affiliate Income & Other Important Info
It’s important to note that in order to be a legally operating affiliate, you have to make sure you disclose your links to readers/viewers. That just means that you can’t be sneaky about your links – everywhere you put them, you have to let people know that they are indeed affiliate links and that you might receive commissions from them.
The actual process of doing this legally is not heavily regulated. But here a
re a few widely-recognized practices in the blogging world:
- Disclose at the beginning of any post/page that might have affiliate links. You need to say something BEFORE any links are presented.
- Have a legal/disclosure page that explains everything to your readers and covers you.
- For Amazon (and some other companies), you must have a specially-worded disclosure that’s visible at all times. (Mine is in my sidebar.)
Tips for Boosting Affiliate Income
- Use links in the first and last few paragraphs of blog posts – people online typically just skim things.
- Use links when writing your posts, not AFTER you publish them. If you wait to add links and your posts get traction overnight or don’t check on your blog for a few days, you’re missing income potential.
- Use links in a conversational and genuine way so as not to offend readers.
- Be picky about what you advertise.
- Use links wherever you can/across social media as well as your blog and email.
- Use freebie links to segue into potential purchases – examples would be links to free trials, free samples, etc.
So if someone asked you the question, “What is affiliate marketing?” would you be able to answer? Did I help you understand it a little bit more? Tell me below!