There are thousands of successful bloggers all around the world. However, one of the main issues people have when running a blog is MONETIZATION. In this in-depth guide, we will show you how to start an affiliate marketing blog on a budget, some cool monetization tips along with case studies.
In the FlyingStartOnline blog, our primary source of monetization is: affiliate marketing.
This blogger’s guide to affiliate marketing also includes some REAL WORLD examples of blogging superstars. It’s essential to see exactly how successful bloggers market their blogs, so you can succeed with your blog just like they have with theirs.
Affiliate Blog #1: Smart Passive Income
Pat Flynn | Owner of http://www.smartpassiveincome.com
Pat Flynn is the perfect example of somebody who has made an absolute killing with affiliate marketing through his personal blog.
After being laid off from his 9 to 5 job, Pat took his part-time hobby of affiliate marketing and turned it into a full-time income.
He created The Smart Passive Income Blog in October 2008 to share his strategies, methods, and thoughts with the world – but the revenue he has been able to generate through Smart Passive Income eventually exceeded what he was making from his other marketing strategies.
Pat has been very transparent in sharing both his income figures and income sources, so we are fortunate enough to be able to delve deeper into his business and have a look at some very interesting numbers.
If we take a look back to Pat’s income report for October 2008 when he first started his blog, only a very small portion of the almost $8000 in income he generated for the month actually came from his personal blog. The bulk of his earnings came from one of his other website – Green Exam Academy.
Pat didn’t intend for the Smart Passive Income site to be his major source of income.
It was originally set up so he could share his thoughts and strategies about his other affiliate marketing endeavors.
Because of the great value, he provided to readers of his blog, coupled with the fact that he would only recommend products he was actually using, Pat has been able to build up a very loyal following.
His success can also be attributed to his wildly successful podcast – which is AWESOME btw.
So right out of the gate, you may be wondering WHY you should choose affiliate marketing instead of the myriad of other monetization techniques out there.
It’s simple really: There are a lot of BENEFITS to affiliate marketing, and I’ve covered all that in the next section…
Benefits of Affiliate Marketing
#1. No Product Development
You don’t need to develop products (software or courses) when using affiliate marketing.
Everything is already done for you.
Other than referring your blog’s visitors to the product you’re promoting, there’s nothing else that you have to do. No need to develop a product, handle shipping, or even customer support. You don’t even have to deal with refunds or delivery issues.
#2. Interaction with your Blog Readers
You’re referring your blog readers to something that you personally chose.
This maintains a high level of association and trust with your readers and also helps you increase conversion rate.
With using something like Google Adsense, you simply can’t control what kinds of things are advertised on your blog.
It might be somewhat targeted, but usually varies quite a bit.
With affiliate marketing, you choose EXACTLY what you want to advertise on your site, at any time.
#3. You Are In Control
You can choose exactly what you want to do when you’re promoting products as an affiliate on your blog.
If you want to tell your technology blog viewers about the latest Macbook Pro you recently tested, you can do that easily.
You’re in complete control of everything and anything related to the promos on your website.
#4. Higher Revenues
Depending on what your blog is about, you will usually receive a HIGHER COMPENSATION with affiliate marketing.
It’s quite a simple explanation for this: You CHOOSE what you want to promote, and you can target the readers of your blog like nobody else can.
You know them better than anyone else, so you’ll get more sales and a higher click-through-rate.
Blog Monetization Strategies
So now that we’ve gone over exactly WHY you should be using affiliate marketing, let’s take a look at some interesting ways to integrate affiliate marketing on your blog.
Your monetization strategy with affiliate marketing is totally in your control.
Each option listed below is simply ONE of the MANY ways that affiliate marketing can be used to escalate the revenue and user-experience of your blog.
#1. Sidebar Banners
Yes, those big bright professional looking banners!
Banners have commonly been one of the most effective ways of affiliate marketing on blogs and websites.
They’re incredibly easy to integrate, and people tend to notice them while reading your blog, which is always great. You can even use a widget to keep the banner scrolling as the user scrolls down on your page.
There’s a good reason they’re one of the most widely used forms of advertising on websites and blogs – sidebar banners work.
#2. In-Post Banners
The key to using in-post banners is to make sure that what you’re linking the banner is contextually relevant.
If it seems intrusive or out of place, the reader may completely ignore the banner or worse, hit the back button.
When used properly though, in-post banners are one of the most effective and user-friendly ways to use affiliate marketing on your blog.
Here is an example of an acceptable in-post banner:
#3. Inline Linking
Inline linking is found everywhere and on every single blog. Inline linking is incredibly useful as long as you use it properly. Just like in-post banners, the goal is to make them as relevant as possible.
Just make the linking seems natural, and it will not only increase your conversions, but it will make the entire process user-friendly as well.
#4. Opt-in Forms
It’s quite easy to build an email list with WordPress since there are plenty of plugins that help you embed opt-in forms.
You could set up an autoresponder campaign to provide your users with information as well as refer them some hot promo offers. Again – the goal is to be helpful, while still generating some income. Everything’s great if you can keep your audience happy.
#5. Product Reviews
This is definitely one of the best affiliate monetization strategies.
You can buy a product and write a review of that product to help your readers make an informed decision. At FSO, we review products that we use ourselves and LOVE – so win-win?
If you tried a product and didn’t like it, writing an unfavorable review is perfectly fine. Writing positive reviews is usually where you’ll get better click-thru rates and conversions.
However, you need to be GENUINE and authentic. Don’t give a 5-star rating to every single product you’ve used.
#6. Urgency/Bonus Promos
The best way to turn an undecided visitor into a buyer is to add a sense of urgency.
Running a special offer on the product can usually do this – where the price may rise any time or seats may fill up soon.
The problem here is that often you will have no control over these promotions if you are promoting other people’s products. So how do you get around it?
You can offer an added BONUS to people who buy through your link.
This can be a special report you have written, or a discount on another product, or any type of valuable add-on.
You can place a hard limit on the amount of the bonuses you’ll be giving away to add an extra level of urgency
People usually think that giving something away might cause your blog to lose money, but that’s not the case. Some of the best and most profitable blogs in the world do give away free stuff.
On FSO, we’ve given away some of our premium courses for free. All they have to do is opt-in:
If people are signing up to get the thing you’re giving away, they’re quite likely to be interested in your content in the future.
Simply provide an affiliate link or your review of the product you’re promoting on the THANK YOU PAGE and will usually tend to make your money back on the giveaway. Plus, you’ve just added a new subscriber to your email list.
Choosing a certain monetization strategy on your blog is completely up to you.
These are simply some the most popular ways that have been tried and tested by tons of bloggers.
Just remember to keep your AUDIENCE in mind and make sure your promos are not hampering the user experience.
Affiliate Blog #2: John Chow
John Chow | Owner of www.johnchow.com
These days it seems almost everyone has a blog, and one of the most successful and well-known bloggers is John Chow.
In 2 short years, he was able to take his blog from earning nothing to earning over $30,000 per month.
John began his blog in 2005, way back before blogging became commonplace.
Initially starting with Google Adsense, he has since expanded his monetization methods to include private advertisers, several affiliate marketing programs and tools. He even has his own line of products to teach others how to make money online with affiliate marketing and blogging.
By November 2006, Johns blog had grown to over 200,000 monthly visitors and was generating a fraction over $2000 per month.
Just 12 months later that same blog was earning in excess of $20,000 per month from a similar number of visitors. Clearly, he had mastered how to maximize his earnings per visitor, as that particular figure had increased by more than 10 times in that time period.
John has also gone on to become one of the top affiliates in Matt Lloyds MOBE (My Online Business Empire) program.
Matt makes a healthy 6 figures per month income, so for John to be one of his top affiliates is quite an achievement. John also qualified to receive a brand new Mercedes-Benz for his effort.
John is a little more aggressive in his marketing style than Pat Flynn, but the basic premise remains the same – provide high quality, valuable content to your readers and your following will grow exponentially.
Affiliate Blog #3: Matthew Woodward
Matthew Woodward | Owner of www.matthewwoodward.co.uk
Although Matthew’s blog doesn’t have quite the success or exposure that Pat Flynn and John Chow have, he is certainly making a name for himself as an up and coming blogger.
Matthew has been recognized with a number of awards, including the Pro Blogger One To Watch 2013 and inclusion in the Unbounce Top 75 marketing blogs.
The majority of Matthew’s earnings are still generated through his various SEO projects on other sites, but he is certainly following in the footsteps of John Chow and Pat Flynn by building a loyal group of followers via his personal blog.
As his number of followers grow, so does his income.
Matthew started his blog in August 2012, which is fairly decent when compared to the other two previously mentioned bloggers. The first month only brought in 2125 visitors, but he was able to make $605 in profit. Since then, his blog has steadily grown in popularity and of course – affiliate commissions.
In less than 5 years, Matthew has been able to increase his visitor count from 2125 in August 2012, to 71,364 in May 2017.
How did he rise to prominence?
It is quite a simple concept really, but it is one that so many fail to grasp.
Matthew made sure he provided high-quality actionable content to his readers.
Not just well-written articles, but articles that actually helped people and showed them how to do things that they had never even thought of doing themselves.
He also made several in-depth tutorial videos which he shared completely free of charge.
These insightful articles and tutorials were not only shared on his blog, but also on other highly trafficked forums and industry blogs.
The important thing to note here is that what he was sharing was not a thinly veiled promotion of a product or service as so many others try to do…
It was all just valuable content that helped the reader without asking for anything in return.
While there are other bloggers who have had similar levels of success to these, many of them aren’t willing to share their earnings; so we are unable to get an in-depth look at their business.
This is one thing that has helped these bloggers reach where they are today – because their transparency and honesty is what attracts readers and keeps them coming back.
Affiliate Blogging Tips
Hopefully, you’ve been able to identify what these 3 bloggers have in common (hint – it has something to do with QUALITY!).
The biggest take-away from this article is that the INCOME you make is a BYPRODUCT of the VALUE you provide.
Let me share some useful tips that you can use to become the next blogging superstar:
Tip #1: Money Is Not The ONLY Motivation
To start with, do not create your blog with the sole intention of making money.
People generally don’t like to be sold to, so if you set up a blog filled with affiliate promotions and not a lot of content, people are going to see straight through you.
Tip #2: Provide Value
Look at what Pat, John, and Matthew (case study below) have done and where they started.
It was all about providing quality, useful information to their readers.
The money came later when they had built their reputation and also developed a certain level of trust from their readers.
Tip #3: Publish Frequently
It’s also important to regularly update your blog.
If your most recent post is like 3 months old – it means you’re lacking.
People will keep coming back if you keep providing new and valuable content. You don’t need to generate 5000 NEW visitors per day if you can get your loyal fanbase returning over and over again.
Tip #4: Don’t Give Up Early
In the beginning, you won’t have a lot of traffic and won’t be making much money (if any). Too many people give up at this point because they didn’t succeed early – don’t be one of them!
You need to understand that establishing a successful blog takes time, so keep on providing regular updates and keep on finding new ways to drive traffic to your blog. Successful blogs don’t suddenly appear overnight; it takes a consistent effort over a period of time to build them up to that point.
Tip #5: Build That Email List
It almost goes without saying, but make sure you have an opt-in form and actively encourage your visitors to join your mailing list.
I am sure you’ve heard it before – create a free report as an enticement for people to opt in (you thought I was going to say the money is in the list didn’t you?). The reason you keep hearing people say that you should create a free report is simply because it works!
Give people a reason to join your list.
Then when they have joined, make sure you give them a reason to stay.
Don’t just send them endless promotions because they will quickly get sick of it and unsubscribe. Run some competitions, encourage communication and make being your subscriber a fun experience! There are so many things you can do with your list to turn them into loyal followers who will happily buy anything that you recommend.
Tip #6: Transparency is Key
Be honest, open and transparent.
Share your feelings as freely as you share your opinions and advice on your blog.
People will often go through the same struggles as you, so writing about it can really help people to see that you are a real person just like them.
Tip #7: Promote What YOU Use
You should only recommend products that you have used yourself.
If you look at Matthew Woodward and Pat Flynn, they make a lot of money by simply providing their readers with useful tutorials and insights on how to use the various products that they use themselves.
Tip #8: Write Better Reviews
People are more likely to buy a product if you show them how to use it, how it benefits your business and also how it can benefit theirs.
Think about this – do you typically buy a product from someone who has posted a 700 word, made for SEO, review style article that took you 3 minutes to read and still didn’t tell you much?
Or would you rather be more inclined to buy from someone who provided videos and instructions on how to get the most out of a product and you spent 20 minutes learning about it from their site?
Don’t worry about split testing ad placements or finding extra things to promote. Keep providing value and people will actively look to buy through your affiliate link. The more value you provide, the more people will want to buy from you.
Blogging Concepts For Affiliates
In this section, I’ll give you some key concepts to succeed as an affiliate.
Some concepts are followed by a real-life example of a person who has followed that particular concept and succeeded.
Concept #1: Readership Comes First – Profits Later
Making revenue through blogging will not happen right away.
- First, you must attract READERS to your blog and later, after you develop a substantial amount of readers to your blog – revenue will follow.
- Admiration of your blog and number of comments are just vanity metrics; you must have some type of monetization plan on your blog even before you start writing the first article!
- Therefore – you must find your NICHE. In which “missing element” will your blog FIT – that visitors will stop, read, comment, and click on your affiliate banners?
- What demographic will your blog serve?
This being said, you need to work on your blog for months, sometimes a year or more, prior to seeing any noticeable revenue coming from it.
The outcome may vary depending on your “personal brand” and how much time you put into promoting your content.
The best example to explain this would be – TimothySykes.com
Sykes has a blog with his “own” brand.
His blog is not an affiliate for another company, per se, but he does touch on a market that peaks the curiosity of many people today, “money.”
Not only that, he has REPEAT visitors – tons of them. He offers grounded information that his readers seek.
Through his blog, Sykes has engineered fantastic content that keeps readers begging for more.
So how does he monetize his blog? He has created fantastic content that he sells via a membership on his site, along with educational DVDs effectively informing visitors how to get a head start in the penny stock market.
Though Timothy is his “own affiliate” so to speak, it is a unique way to affiliate your know-how via your blog.
Concept #2: Blogging Has Overhead Expenditures
This should come as no surprise, “blogging is not free.”
Utilizing free domains like WordPress.com or Blogger.com should be avoided if you are serious about making your blog a long-term business.
In addition, you will need to let go of a bit of cash on design, unless you are PHP or CSS pro.
For instance, using the MyThemeShop themes gives you great looking professional blog. There’s no need for anything excessive; however, it should have a special appeal and not the usual generic template persona.
The best example to explain this would be – Coolest-Gadgets.com
It has a magnificent layout and design.
It’s intelligible, not hyped-up; nonetheless, the applicability of energetic colors and the flawless navigation arrangement used is what makes it easy for visitors to know how to get around the blog and find what they are searching for.
In terms of monetization, coolest-gadgets.com has unsurprisingly taken on a “thingamajiggy” type appearance with various uncommon gadgets to be purchased by way of connecting links.
There are minimal flash and just enough information to get visitors curious.
If you want affiliate marketing to be profitable one thing you can learn from this blog is you must have clear, precise graphics, interesting offers, and quality products.
Given the industry this blog is based upon, there is an endless choice of affiliates available.
When selecting the premise of your blog for affiliate marketing, the more money making affiliate programs available for your product, the more possibilities you have to monetize your blog.
Concept #3: Choose Your Niche
Due to Google’s fascination with brands, both large and small, you will need to make certain that whichever niche you decide upon is one that you are passionate about and write about on a regular basis.
And don’t worry – there are plenty of offers to promote for all major niches.
Your choice of topic should be something you are or can become, an expert on, thereby building a brand.
For the majority of bloggers beginning with their first blog, the means to achieve that expertise required and “stay with it” is to blog about something that:
- You are knowledgeable about
- Something you enjoy blogging about
Consider your hobbies and what things you enjoy.
Then take a look at the larger affiliate networks to make sure there are products that correlate with your niche.
Concept #4: Finding Affiliate Offers
There are literally hundreds, even thousands, of diverse sites that permit product owners to set up their “information products” and advertise them to affiliates who have the opportunity to select the products they want.
These sites are perfect when starting a blog for affiliate marketing.
Some of the largest marketplaces that offer products to promote as an affiliate are:
Commission Junction | cj.com
Commission Junction is a massive marketplace where many of the largest retailers receive affiliates for their products. The majority are physical products, so there is a broad range of products you can make a commission on.
The signing up process to Commission Junction requires one have a functioning, plus the application process is somewhat painstaking, but once the door is open, you have the “elite” of retailers to choose from.
The only hiccup is that approval is required from each retailer in order to advertise their products for a commission. Nonetheless, most of the retailers automatically approve most people who apply, so there’s little difficult finding something that will suit your blog.
Amazon Affiliate Program | affiliate-program.amazon.com
The Amazon Associates Program is the biggest affiliate program on the planet.
Amazon Associates permits links to literally everything they sell on Amazon.com – including items sold additional sites they manage. Now relax for a moment and imagine the zillions of products on Amazon.com! If you can’t find something there in your niche then it probably doesn’t exist!
In addition, Amazon has a rather scrupulous approval process.
Therefore, your blog needs to be “up to par” with some decent traffic BEFORE you begin the application process.
Once you are accepted, there is no need for approval from every merchant or product!
ClickBank | clickbank.com
ClickBank consists of mainly informational products such as online courses, books, video series, and so on. Clickbank has been relevant in the affiliate marketing industry for some time and has a few fantastic metrics and resources one can utilize to determine what the highest selling products are and what which ones would work best on their blog.
For example, you can track the number of times your link has been posted a number of sales.
If ClickBank seems like something that will suit the goals you have in mind for monetizing your blog, go to their site, follow the acceptance process, and in a few days, you’ll be good to go!
Bonus Affiliate Case Study
The best example of a blog using affiliate networks is – TuckerMax.com.
It is not your typical blog. Don’t look at the image below if you’re under 18:
In fact, it may seem a bit obtuse, but it’s working for Tucker.
Tucker uses Amazon affiliate links, and anyone using Amazon links must have a “working” blog in order to receive approval.
Therefore, a company that knows affiliate marketing has already vetted Tucker.
Tucker’s bad-boy persona has won him plenty of devoted fans.
Rumor has it that one of his books was adapted for the big screen. He managed to monetize his site by marketing his own line of products and products through Amazon.com.
His books center around being somewhat narcissistic and hedonistic; however, they manage to remain pleasant enough. Tucker is just clever and knows how to get people interested in him.
It is not uncommon for affiliate marketers to set up a personal blog, simply so that they have an accountability journal. Tom Ewer is a great example of someone who set up a personal blog for that very purpose.
Sharing what you are doing and laying out your plans for what you intend to do can be a great way to stay focused and motivated – which isn’t always easy to do when you don’t have a boss to answer to.
A blog can become a fascinating record of your Internet Marketing journey and adventures.
It can often be quite interesting to look back on the posts you made one or two years ago and see just how far you have come since then.
As you saw above, Pat Flynn makes a ton of money from affiliate marketing on his blog; $30,000 a month just with Bluehost is absolutely crazy, but in reality – ANYONE can do it.
As long as you put your mind to it and work hard, anything’s possible!
Hopefully, this guide helped you get a direction on how to start an affiliate marketing blog.
Please let me know HOW you’re using affiliate marketing on your blog in the comments below.