How to you summarize 7 years of affiliate marketing blogging in one article? At this point, I don't know, but I'm up for the challenge.
However, before we start affiliate marketing talk, let's learn what it is.
So, What is Affiliate Marketing Anyway?
Simple Answer: Promote other people stuff for a percentage of the sale or a fixed commission.
Longer Answer: Performance-based marketing where you, as an affiliate, promote someone else's product or service for either a percentage of the sale, usually 5-10% for physical products and 30-70% for digital, or specific amount. Basically, if you're good at it, you can make tons of money, and if you're bad, you'll make zero.
But hey, now you're going to be great!
Step 1: You Need an ACTUAL Affiliate Blog, duh!
Now, before you go wild and start blogging like a madman or madwoman, you have decided on what kind of blog you want. Do you feel like spending some money already or rather try to get lucky with the free blog?
Now I recommend starting with a simple self-hosted WordPress blog. It won't break your bank, domain is around $10 per year, and you can get hosting for $3 to $7 per month, but your blog will have a place to call home without being scared of getting kicked out. Free blogs are okay to start with, and you can upgrade to paid ones later, but it will cause you headaches.
Free Affiliate Marketing Blogs Are The Best!
I get it, maybe you're broke, a student or a teen just wanting to make some pocket change and you don't want to go all out and spend like $20 in total. That's fine, cheap is good, especially on first dates. A date with your financial future! I'm just kidding, if you do decide to go with a free blog here are my 3 favorites ones.
- WordPress.com – unlike the self-hosted WordPress site this one will be on a subdomain of wordpress.com or other ones like home.blog or whatever other crazy name they come up with. It's a good choice, especially if you plan to upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress site in the future as the dashboard is very similar. SEO wise, I'll talk about this later, it's not the best one but still manageable
- Weebly.com – Weebly is probably a free site builder I used the most out of all of these. In fact, I used it just last week for testing out things, don't judge me, and it tends to rank better than wordpress.com ones. Another plus of Weebly is that it's practically impossible to get it banned. With WordPress.com if you break the TOS or just try something funny they could ban you.
- Over-Blog.com – Over Blog is probably the least known out of these three, but one that tends to rank the best. Like with Weebly you can get away with some “testing,” but they are strict with the types of emails they accept.
You might be wondering why I didn't mention some other popular ones like Tumblr and Blogspot. Both of these sever their purpose but for an actual blog that you want to make money from they are kinda crappy.
Pros of Free Blogs
- It's free! Duh
- Easier to set up
Cons of Free Blogs
- limited use
- you don't have ownership of the blog
- could be closed/banned at any moment
- harder to do SEO on
- doesn't look professional
If you're set on free option check out my post on making money online without paying anything
Dish Out Some Cash For The Good Stuff – Proper Domain and Hosting
Like I said before, if you got $20 you can start a new website on a .com that is hosted in the United States or any country in the world. That's some prime real estate, baby. In fact, the way I think about all of this is:
- domain is a like your address
- hosting is the land you pay for
- website is your house
On the other hand with free blogs you're just occupying a small place in someone's gigantic mansion.
With that said, like all real estate you can sell it, transfer it or do whatever you want with it as you OWN it. Sure, at first it might seem like a little value but a well developed blog can fetch you 20x to 36x of what it makes in a month. So even if it makes only $100 per month, you could still fetch $2,000 to $3,600 for it. That's still better than what you spent on hosting and domains ($50 to $100 a year).
Pros of Own Domain and Hosting
- total control
- it's an assets like a house that can increase in value
- you look, smell and feel like a pro
- it has that fresh domain smell
Cons of Owning Domain and Hosting
- costs money
- more work
- a bit technical
Do you even code, bro? Make Money Without HTML
From my experience and talking to over
100 3 people out there I noticed that it's not really about money. Unless you're like 13 and don't have a credit card, if that's you than you still rock but start with a free blog, your problem is something else most likely. You're just not confident enough this will work or that you will make it work.
Listen, by now you probably already realize how bad I'm at writing and if I'm able to do this, why not you?
The truth is that creating a site online with self-hosted WordPress is not that much harder than creating and email or free blog. The only difference is that the process has more steps. However, there are tons of information on how to do it online and every major hosting has some kind of WordPress installer that is just press and go.
So, no you don't need to code. Or know any HTML to make a successful blog. In fact, I've created over 100 sites, and still don't know any HTML. Well, that's embarrassing.
Step 2: Content is King For an Affiliate Blog: Fill it Up!
Either start writing, outsource it, or beg anyone you know to write for you. Content is truly king, it does need its queen but about that in the next step, for now just focus on writing. Don't worry about optimization, keyword research or any of that stuff and just put some words on the screen and press publish.
Wait, are YOU serious?
Yes, I've heard content is king since I started online marketing, and even experienced its power on my first blog, but it didn't register with me at the time. In fact, my first cooking blog was getting hits from Google in less than a month because of the recipes I was putting out, and I didn't use any proper SEO optimizations, my permalink was random numbers.
Pro SEO Tip: URL is the most important place to have your keyword. For example: yourawesomedomain.com/you-keyword-here-baby
Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong about doing keyword research. However if you're just starting out the research will most likely do you more harm than good. You will end up in the having a writer's block without even being a writer. It's real, I've been a victim of it myself.
Premature Optimization: Killing Affiliate Marketing Content Since 1998
Imagine yourself excited about something. You're pumped, you're ready to go all out. It doesn't matter if it's on the dance floor, sports event, destroying that dinner you just cooked, or writing a sweet piece of content. You grab the keyboard like a lover you were thinking about all day, and than boom! Instead of making it last all night you get hit with the do's and don't and the mood is over.
Talk about a joy kill. Okay, maybe you don't feel the same way but thinking about keyword density, proper formatting, word count, and everything else they teach these days while writing is an overkill. It destroys the mood and especially the flow. Once you kill the flow, everything goes.
That's why it's better just to write. When starting a website, you're better off writing 10 not optimized articles but perfectly enjoyable and/or educational than 1 that is optimized but reads like a shopping list.
The truth is, you can always go back and optimize your articles later. Just grab that keyboard, some wine and let it rip. You'll thank me later.
Search Engines are a lot smarter but not that smart to catch you blogging.
So, why write the content? If it's not optimized, perfectly formulated it's probably not going to rank, right?
It could, and in some cases it does, but you're missing a key ingredients for your content to rank:
If you're producing content in the same market, or even niche, your blog get a label in Google. Don't worry, it's the good kind. For example, if you write and write about Paleo diet, Google and other search engines will know your blog is about Paleo.
It doesn't take a genius to figure that out and the more content you have about it, the more Google will be sure of it and start giving you more authority and trust in the niche, but unless your niche or the keywords you're trying to rank for are low competition you'll need more than that.
However, that is the foundation you need to kick start the process. If you just have 1 article, you need to buckle up.
With that said, Google can't, at least not at this moment, know if your content is any good. I'm not talking about grammar and punctuation, but the actual quality. So, hurray? You don't really need to be an expert to start a blog so learn as you go and fake it 'till you make it.
But, if you want to go places you better know at least a little or hire someone that does for the next step
Step 3: Content is The King, but Optimization is The Queen
Ha! I got you good, last step I've been saying how not to worry about optimization and here it's the 3rd step. Now before you loose your cool, let me explain.
By optimization I don't mean only your content, it is part of the puzzle but not the complete picture. You need to optimize the whole site, starting from the design and structure.
Now, there different site structures, like typical silo, authority and so on. Once again, don't over complicate this. Like content, inner links and general structure can be changed at any time.
With that said, most posts on your site should be informative and not sales. You could apply the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the posts are purely educational, and 20% you offer/recommend some service or product.
However, these days I would take it to the next level.
Instead of just creating educational and sale posts you can also do some in the middle. For example, case-study posts, tops 10 lists, guides of using a specific item and so on.
You see, these are not overly salesly but will get you plenty of sales or at least point them to the right directions, your affiliate review.
All of this will depends on the blog or site you have but seeing how this post is about affiliate marketing, I'll stick with that structure. Your review posts will be the most salesy post on your website, and one that most people will be reluctant to link to, but about that later.
Let just go over the posts types again
- Educational – any posts where your primary goal is to teach or share information and no sell anything. At least, not in the traditional way like “click here to get it now”
- Hybrid – with a hybrid post, like the name, implies you combine best of the both worlds. You offer your visitors valuable info, call to action but you also offer services or products.
- Commercial – you don't really sell hard anything with an affiliate blog, but rather recommend or review the product, it is still your most salesy posts.
Each of these can be broken down into a specific type of posts, but you get the general idea. Now how many posts each or what percentage of posts you should do depends on you and your niche.
Let's put it in action. Let's say you want to start an affiliate blog about air fryers. Now, most will say it's a bad idea because it's too niched down.
They are partially correct. You see, with a traditional affiliate site format you would write a few reviews, or even 1 review of your favorite air fryer and do a top 10 lists.
Results? A thin site that might get traffic if you rank for the top 10 lists and individual products keywords but that's all.
However, what I would do is start adding air fryer specific recipes. Maybe a post about cleaning, tips on getting the most of it, and so on.
Now you have a site that is getting traffic; other people will link to it, and more sales.
I don't really recommend creating a niche site specifically about airfryers unless you're really passionate about it or there is a huge potential, but that's how I would do it.
It's almost the complete puzzle. You see, things like educational posts, recipes, tips and so on get natural links. Or if you're doing outreach you're more likey to get a link to such posts. People don't like to link to commercial posts. Would you?
With that said, these posts also get the most traffic for 2 reasons.
- People are searching for such information every single day
- Many marketers don't target such posts because “there is no money” in them, so no competition.
In the good old days, these posts were still good, you do get traffic from inner page links on them, but these days they are golden.
These days Google focuses on the website as whole more often, and less on the individual pages. So, if you're ranking for air fryer related keywords, even such as recipes, Google will know your site is about air fryers and give you the authority and trust in that niche.
In fact, I know plenty of examples where the review posts or even sales posts will rank solely based on the authority of the site or educational posts.
Does that make sense?
Step 4: Monetize of An Affiliate Marketing Blog!
We're almost at the finish line! I've talked about monetizing in the previous step with reviews, but there are other ways as well.
Once again, this is an affiliate blog tutorial so I'll not cover eCommerce or selling your own products. However, if you're planning on creating an affiliate blog that can be transformed into an ecommerce or your own product site you can totally do that. Just consider using more of a “branded” domain name and not something based around reviews or keyword.
So how to monetize it?
If you're just starting out, I will focus either either using Amazon Associates for physical products, ad Clickbank for digital ones.
That's really the only 2 you should worry about at the start. Once you become more established, you can brand out to different programs or even contact companies directly.
- Amazon Associates – without a doubt a biggest physical products affiliate program out there. It's fairly easy to get into, only need a decent looking site, but make sure to follow their TOS. With it, you can promote almost any product that sells on Amazon for 4% to 10% commission, based on product category.
- ClickBank – biggest digital marketplace out there. It offers mostly digitally downloadable products or services. Which includes course, guides and so on. The commissions range from 30% to 70% but the competition is bigger.
That's it, once you create our top 10 lists, your reviews or guides you're ready to start sales.
If you create enough of these posts, you should start seeing movement in Google within a few months. However, you can speed up the process but doing traditional SEO or more of outreach and social media marketing.
I'll talk about these in another post.
As always, if you have any questions or comments leave them behind, I mean below.
Anna VanDem is a loving wife, caring mother and passionate entrepreneur that wished to help everyone in their online journey. Anna's focus is SEO and affiliate marketing, but she also enjoys eCom, crypto and investing (also chocolate).