We’ve grown up learning to work for an hourly wage. It’s simple: we’re taught to exchange our time for money.
But there is actually an alternative to exchanging your time to a set amount of income.
Another way to work and earn money is by building passive income streams. With passive income, you put in the work to build something upfront. And then, the money that comes in feels totally passive because you’re receiving payments days, weeks, months, even years after you put in all that work.
All of the sudden, you’re earning money while you sleep.
So, how can you build passive income? One way to make passive income is by using affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways to make money blogging. Why?
- You start building your relationship with the reader.
- Affiliate marketing helps you practice your sales skills.
- It’s typically easy to sign up for, and easy to implement, affiliate marketing.
- Once you set everything up, the income feels super passive.
And, yes: affiliate marketing can be incredibly passive.
In 2017, I took my first trip abroad. I’m used to always having access to wifi or data, but this wasn’t the case in France. I had a very limited time to work on my blog, post to social media, etc. And yet – I’d still come back from a day of exploring and see that I’d made affiliate sales during my trip.
Like, what?! It felt like I didn’t have to do anything, when in fact we just put in work before we left.
And you can achieve this, too.
This guide introduces affiliate marketing for beginners, along with strategies anyone can implement on their blog to start making money from affiliate marketing.
What is affiliate marketing?
First, you might be wondering: what the heck IS affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when you promote a company’s service or product and that promotion is tracked via a special link. Every time you inspire a reader to click your link and do something, like make a purchase, you receive a small commission or some form of compensation.
Affiliate marketing is a “cost-per-action” type of advertising. This means that advertisers/companies pay YOU a cost-per-action. For example, you can get paid a commission if someone clicks your link and does something like enter their email address or complete a survey. Alternatively, you can get paid a commission when someone clicks your link and makes a purchase after a certain amount of time.
The terms are different for each advertiser, so when you sign up for a program it’s best to read the fine print of the agreement to see what your audience would need to do in order for you to earn that commission.
Still, affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways to start making money blogging. You’re basically promoting other companies’ services or products, so you don’t have to spend all the time it takes to create your own. It’s a great way to start learning what may or may not work with your audience.
Are you afraid you may seem inauthentic to your readers by promoting products?
- Promote companies and products that will benefit your audience
- Show your readers how a product can benefit them by writing a “how-to” guide
- Write informative, helpful posts that give readers a wealth of information (beyond the product)
- Connect with readers by providing a personal experience with the company, or a photo of you using the product!
So, how do you start helping your readers and monetizing your blog?
- Brainstorm a list of companies you want to promote in your niche
- Google “company/brand affiliate program”
- If they have an affiliate program, follow the steps to apply for their program
Can I use affiliate marketing on my blog?
If you’re using a free host (like Blogger, WordPress.com, or Wix), you have to adhere to your host’s Terms and Conditions. So while they may allow affiliate links, they may also restrict your use of them. If you are on one of those platforms, you should refer to their Terms and Conditions regarding using affiliate links.
Self-hosted bloggers have more freedom to use affiliate links. To be self-hosted means a hosting company like Siteground or Bluehost hosts the servers of your website.
(This can be confusing! If you want to learn more, click here to read the difference between free WordPress and self-hosted WordPress.)
Starting a self-hosted and profitable blog is actually pretty affordable compared to the start-up costs of any other business.
It’s easy for a non-tech-savvy person (trust me, that’s us) can start a blog at less than $3 per month and still get access to 24/7 customer service that walks you through any troubles you have. I recommend Bluehost as a great company to start an affiliate marketing blog – in addition to great, 24/7 customer service, you get a free domain with your purchase of website hosting!
Regardless of what platform you’re promoting affiliate links, in the spirit of having a marketplace free of deception (aka a marketplace free of people promoting products just because they’re getting something from it, not because it’s totally awesome), there are some guidelines we bloggers have to follow.
Yup, there’s a legal side to affiliate marketing – but don’t let that scare you away!
The Legal Side of Affiliate Marketing
First and foremost, I am not a lawyer, so my recommendations should not be taken as legal advice. I’ve simply done general research on FTC Endorsement Guidelines and summarized what I understand.
The American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires marketers/bloggers to disclose their relationships with companies if they receive something in exchange for something like an affiliate link, for example:
- If you receive a commission if someone uses your affiliate link,
- Any product or compensation a company gives you in exchange for posts on social media or your blog.
Don’t let your any fears you have stop you from the potential of making money blogging.
On this blog, Reroute Lifestyle, I monetized from the beginning and started making money before this website even launched. I monetized my first lifestyle blog from the beginning and made my first $0.44 commission from Amazon Affiliates within one week of starting my blog.
For some people, it’s scary to make money blogging or writing. But why? If you’re making money from your blog, that means you’re providing someone with enough value and inspiration to make a purchase. Give your readers valuable and helpful content so they walk away from every post a better person.
Best Affiliate Marketing Programs for New Bloggers
This is my favorite affiliate network! ShareASale connects bloggers with companies like Etsy, Missguided, Tailwind, and Freshbooks. They have programs that are both commission-based and pay-per-lead, so there are always opportunities to make money via ShareASale.
The minimum you must make from ShareASale is $50 before you receive payment. Payments with ShareASale are sent via direct deposit or check via mail.
Awin connects bloggers with companies like Etsy, Trusted Housesitters, Fiverr, and Swagbucks. They also have programs that are both commission-based and pay-per-lead which makes it easy for bloggers to meet their minimum $20 threshold.
They ask for $5 for you to sign up with Awin, but you get the $5 back in its entirety when you receive your first payment. Awin sends payments via direct deposit (US), check, or international wire.
If you don’t use Ebates, you’re missing out! First of all, bloggers in practically every niche can partner with Ebates – fashion, food, travel, personal finance, books… Your readers will love that Ebates is a totally free website where they can make money when they shop online.
Plus, your readers get $10 for using your referral link and making their first purchase (you can click here to use ours). And you get $5 per referral which scales as your amount of referrals grow per quarter.
Ebates sends quarterly payments via check, or Paypal.
Flexoffers is an affiliate network that offers something for everyone. From surveys, to partnerships with personal finance companies, to shopping or travel affiliates, they definitely have something for everyone.
Their minimum payout threshold of $100 is sent via direct deposit (US) or Paypal.
There are products in every niche available via Amazon Affiliates – whether you’re writing about fitness, parenting, lifestyle, travel… yup, the list goes on! Amazon typically pays its affiliates 4% of sales for most products, and $5 for qualifying Audible subscriptions. No matter your niche, you can really make Amazon work for you and your audience.
Amazon’s $10 minimum payout threshold is paid via direct deposit (US) or Paypal.
Shopstyle Collective works best for fashion, lifestyle, and maybe even travel bloggers. You can create pretty widgets full of products and add the widgets to your blog posts. If someone clicks on your link, Shopstyle Collective pays a $0.05 commission. And if they make a purchase, you get a percentage of the sale!
Shopstyle Collective does require a minimum payment threshold of $100 payable via Paypal.
If you’re obsessed with creative digital products and have an audience of readers who love digital products (we’re talking themes, fonts, graphics packages, Photoshop brushes, etc.), they will LOVE Creative Market. They even give sets of free goodies every week, so you can keep your eye on them and let your audience know when you see something they’ll love.
Ultimate Bundles are bundles of products (eBooks, audiobooks, eCourses, etc.) you can offer to your audience at 90% off or more. These bundles go on sale during specific parts of the year. Even better, for every bundle you sell, you receive 40% commission. There are bundles for a variety of niches, including fitness, blogging, entrepreneurship, healthy living, and even travel.
Ultimate Bundles sends payments via Paypal on the 11th of the second month after the sale date.
9. CJ Affiliate
CJ Affiliate are another network of various affiliate programs. They have affiliates for every niche, but I know them for their excellent network of travel programs including TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Expedia, and City Pass.
CJ Affiliate sends payment via direct deposit or check with a minimum threshold of $50.
How can I promote affiliate products?
Okay, so you’re set up with affiliate marketing programs. Now, how are you going to promote these products? There are probably countless ways to do so, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Write a step-by-step tutorial on the product
- Include products or companies in a list (gift list, tools list, etc.)
- Create a resources page with links to products and services you use
- Send affiliate promotions to your mailing list
- Use Pinterest to circulate affiliate links
- Write an evergreen article, and add a section on a relevant affiliate to it
And it’s always fun to get creative. For example, Ebates is well known as a way to get cash back in the personal finance niche. But, travel bloggers can promote Ebates to their readers when they’re writing about booking accommodations, hotels, or even rental cars!
Think out of the box and you’ll inspire your readers to use your affiliate link!
So… you monetized your blog with affiliate marketing. Now what?
So, you’ve created your incredible content and added affiliate links to it. Now what, right?!?! It’s totally possible to generate affiliate income as a small blogger, but regardless of such, you still need to drive traffic to your posts.
- Circulate your posts via Pinterest (if you’re not driving traffic with Pinterest, click here for our Pinterest guide for beginners)
- Promote your posts on Twitter
- Add your posts to promotional threads in Facebook groups
- Let your Instagram followers know by promoting the post in your Insta story
Most importantly, remember to consistently promote your posts. I have posts that still make money five or six months after they’ve been written. So always keep your money-making posts in your promotional rotation!
I actually use Tailwind to really boost our blog’s Pinterest exposure. For one, you can maintain and manage your pinning schedule (this way, you can even pin while you sleep). Also, you get access to Tailwind Tribes regardless of whether or not you pay for a subscription. Tailwind Tribes are every blogger’s dream – you are part of a community of people who pin your posts to their audience. And you get access to a community full of quality content to pin to your own boards.
And most importantly, stay true to you.
The combination of affiliate marketing and blogging is a great way to start telling others about products you love. When we love something, we rave about it. If you’re that type of person who can’t stop telling all your friends about the latest gadget or product you bought, you should definitely consider pouring your passion into a blog! We’ve written this guide on how to get started with your profitable blog.
Or maybe you’ve already started blogging, and you’re looking for a little more guidance. Here are other blogging-related posts:
- Blogging 101: Building Your Digital Empire & Boosting Your Blog Traffic with Ana from The She Approach
- How to Make Money Blogging: Make Your First $1,000 Blogging
- Reroute Lifestyle: Kick Your 9-5 and Be Your Own CEO
Blogging is an incredible way to write about something you feel passionate about, share that passion with the world, and even make money from it. But it’s definitely a learn-as-you-go activity.
My favorite part of the discussion happens in the comments. What are ways you’re using affiliate marketing? This guide is affiliate marketing for beginners, which means we’re definitely working on bringing out an advanced guide. So, if you’ve been trying affiliate marketing, where do you struggle? What can we help you with?