Affiliate marketing is one of the best (and most widely used) for of blog monetization, especially if you are new to blogging. Even if you eventually want to get into doing sponsored posts, it will take time for you to grow your traffic and following first.
Affiliate marketing is a way to earn money by referring your readers to products and services and making a commission. There are lots of affiliate marketing programs out there for you to join in any niche.
Even if you are an affiliate marketing beginner, there are ways to start utilizing these programs.
One of the first things that most bloggers do is find affiliate programs to join.
What is an affiliate program?
An affiliate program is an opportunity to highlight products or services for a different person or company and make a commission on any sales generated through your links.
Affiliate programs allow you to make money from the work of others, BUT also help them make money by increasing sales overall.
The affiliate agreement is mutually beneficial!
Affiliate Programs and Cookies
How does a website track that a user has clicked on your link?
When a reader clicks on your unique URL, a cookie is created on the company or individual’s site to track the potential sale.
Cookies are kind of like placing a bookmark in a book only it’s a digital bookmark (code) for a website.
Depending on the terms of the affiliate program, these cookies can stay in a user’s web browser for days, weeks or even months.
So, if the user who clicked your link goes back to the company to make a purchase (using the same browser they used to click on your link), the website will still know to give you the commission if it is still within the allotted “cookie window” per your agreement with them.
But, if a user is shopping around and is clicking links on multiple sites, the last link they click will log the cookie. This means, if a user clicks on a different link to the same website after yours, the other blogger will receive the commission.
When you include affiliate links on your blog, you will ALWAYS want to add “no follow” to the links for SEO purposes.
Here is how to do this using code in the Code Editor or through a plugin (when possible).
How you find the right affiliate links for your programs will depend on the company and software they use.
By law (and per all your affiliate agreements), you will need to disclose to the reader that your post or page contains affiliate links that earn your money if they click on them (and make a purchase).
You will need to look into the agreement between yourself and the affiliate program to see if special language is needed for a particular program.
As a rule of thumb, many bloggers choose to include an affiliate disclaimer at the top of every post and page that links to a Disclaimer or Disclosure page (where all of the affiliate programs are listed).
Here is an article about the language to put into your disclaimer (but always make sure your program doesn’t have any specific language requirements).
There are a few ways you can implement this without needing to copy and paste text every time:
- FMTC Affiliate Disclaimer (plugin – free): You fill out what you want the disclaimer to say and it will automatically post under your post title. However, make sure that you test that the text doesn’t get pulled in your pin description if you use Pinterest.
- Create an image that links to your legal page with your affiliate disclaimer text. Place the image at the top of every page before your content. You can do this easily by creating the image once and using a plugin like Shortcoder (free) to merely place a shortcode at the beginning of your posts. However, if you choose to do images, make sure you keep both desktop AND mobile in mind! You will need to design for mobile FIRST.
- Use a reusable block in WordPress Gutenberg to insert at the beginning of your post. Here’s how.
Whatever you choose, make sure to test your method, especially when it comes to what text is pulled for social media shares.
This is a great article about the language you should use and some other thoughts around how to disclose your affiliate agreements.
Remember, you must also disclose your affiliation if you also use links on social media (#affiliate).
When you look to join an affiliate program, you may find a list of requirements though many have few (if any).
Make sure to read through the agreement for any requirements (like legal pages, blog traffic, etc) before applying.
It’s more common to have traffic and social following requirements for Sponsored opportunities.
Also refer to the affiliate agreement on any restrictions on social media. For example, Amazon.com does not allow you to share affiliate links on Facebook.
Networks and Programs
While there are specific affiliate programs for some companies, many use networks to manage their affiliate sales.
Below is a list of some common affiliate program networks you can check out. Each will have a combination of all sorts of programs to join for almost any niche:
- Awin: requires a $5 deposit that will be refunded after your first sale.
- CJ Affiliate (previously Commission Junction): does have a minimum amount of time to make a sale before they shut down your account and charge a monthly fee!
- MagicLinks: This is a unique program where you create links from hundreds of different sites. You are paid per click and get a commission of sales. There is some overlap like you can create links to Target.com but you get a bigger commission if you go through their actual affiliate program. But, MagicLinks makes it easy to get links from popular sites without applying to each affiliate program (and some that don’t offer programs).
Here are some other company specific programs that are popular (and are great for the parenting niche):
If you take a course that you love (in any niche), don’t be shy about asking the creator if they have an affiliate program so you can highlight their course.
If you are looking for a great course to take for yourself about affiliate marketing, see the Resources page for recommendations.