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The Definitive Affiliate Marketing Guide for Bloggers

Note: Like every smart blogger, I use affiliate marketing, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure for more information.

Would you like your blog to be able to generate some income for you, rather than it just being a hobby? To be able to make money by talking about your passions and helping thousands of people?

Then this post is just for you!

I’m going to show you exactly how to use affiliate marketing to make an income. Without having to have ads on your blog that annoy the hell out of your visitors and without having to be pushy or salesy either.

And don’t worry…

I know trying new things with your blog can be daunting or even terrifying, so in this affiliate marketing guide, I’m going to virtually take your hand and walk you through everything, step-by-simple-step! Whether you’re brand new or have been blogging for a while.

Let’s get started!

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Let’s get everyone on the same page here.

Before we can go into the step-by-step, let’s get clear on what affiliate marketing is and how affiliate marketing works.

You have probably already seen it in action:

Have you ever read a How-to blog post where the author recommends a product to make it easier? What about a review of a product? Or those lists like the 10 Best Headsets for Gamers or something similar?

That’s most likely affiliate marketing.

When you click on the link and purchase the product, they get paid a commission. Think of it as getting compensation from the seller for sending a new customer their way. 

It’s a win-win-win situation:

You get a quality product recommendation from someone you can trust (given they’re ethical, more on that later), the seller makes a sale they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten and the blogger gets compensation for it.

With that let’s look at the affiliate marketing definition:

Affiliate marketing is an agreement and partnership by which a blogger, YouTuber, influencer, or website sends people to another company. In exchange, they receive a commission over all the sales from the people they sent to the product.

It’s one of the best ways of monetizing a blog.

For visual people, here’s a graphic made by someone who’s terrible at graphic design (me):

How Affiliate Marketing Works for bloggers
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Why Affiliate Marketing?

There are a few ways you can make money blogging:

  1. Ads (like Google Adsense)
  2. Affiliate Marketing
  3. Your own products or services
  4. Sponsored content

If you go the first route by having ads on your blog, you would be really lucky if you get a CPM of $5 (earn $5 for every 1000 views).

You need a LOT of traffic to make anything significant this way.

Moreover, your readers do not like ads (just like almost everyone). It’s why so many people use an Ad Blocker (that’s the one I recommend). By having ads you’re making people’s interaction with you and your site worse, while getting little in return. 

Not something I would recommend.

The third way can make you a lot of money, if the products are good. However, it does take a ton of work! It’s generally not beginner-friendly because of everything that’s involved with creating and selling your own products.

Affiliate marketing is the perfect solution!

In this case you don’t need to create your own product. You don’t handle customer support, shipping, or anything of the sort. The company you’re an affiliate for does that.

You just create content for your blog (we’ll cover exactly how in a bit).

This has a few advantages:

You don’t nearly need as many people to make a decent amount of money. To illustrate: years ago (when I was like 17), I made my first commission after having around 50 visitors total, which was around $25!

Additionally:

Affiliate marketing helps your readers as well. Given that you use it ethically, which I’ll assume you do. 

Here’s how your readers benefit:

When you blog, you become an expert in your niche. Someone people can trust. When you refer people to a product that will help them reach their goals, you’re pretty much doing them a favor! They rely on your expertise to guide them on their journey.

That’s why it’s a win-win-win!

Affiliate Marketing Definitions

Let’s take this step to avoid some confusion.

When you’re reading this affiliate marketing guide (or other sites), you will come across a lot of new terms that you have likely never heard before. Don’t let the jargon stop you from getting started though.

Let’s go over some of the common affiliate marketing terms and definitions you might see.

Affiliate Program: This is generally the term used for the agreement between a company and its affiliates. It usually contains information regarding commission, what you can and can’t do in terms of promotion and things like that. 

Affiliate: That’s you (and others like you). In other words: the people that are promoting the company’s products.

Publisher: Again, that’s you. By publisher, they mean a publisher of a blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel. They’re referring to a platform you post content on that drives people to their products.

Advertiser: These are the companies whose products you promote. The difference between this and regular advertisements is that they pay only after the sale is made. Having affiliates is a risk-free way of advertising.

Merchant: Again, this is just another term for the creator of the product or the store you send people to.  

Affiliate Link: These are special links that are unique for each affiliate. You will be using this link in your promotion. Because the link is unique to you, this will allow the company to credit anyone coming through the link to you as the affiliate who made the sale.

Offer: This is the product being offered and how they offer it. Whether it’s a sales page, a product page on an ecommerce store (like Amazon), a trial, etc. This is what you’re promoting.

Cookies: These are important. Most companies have these set up for a specific time period, for example, 30 days or 90 days. When someone clicks your link they get linked to you so to speak. Meaning if they buy on their own within the time period, you still get credit!

Commission: This is the term we use for your cut of the sale. Some companies work with a flat amount for each sale while others work with a % of the sale price. Many monthly paid products (memberships, software, etc.) offer recurring commissions. Where you get paid for as long as someone remains a customer.

Affiliate Network: We’ll get into these in the next section. An affiliate network is basically a marketplace where companies can list products they want to recruit affiliates for. Affiliates in return can look for products they want to promote and sign up for the affiliate program.

EPC: This stands for earnings per click and is the average of earnings for every person that clicks on the link. For example, if you make 1 sale for $40 commission when 80 people click, that’s a $0.50 EPC ($40/80).

As you can see:

There are sometimes multiple terms being used for the same thing. Even if it sounds confusing, bear with me and I’ll walk you right through it.

What You Need to Get Started With Affiliate Marketing

Now that you have a better understanding, let’s dive into the content.

Note: This section is about the pre-requisites. If you already know who your target audience is, you have a blog already, and you know about email marketing. Feel free to skip this section. If you’re unsure about the target audience for your blog, this section will help. 

What do you really need?

Firstly:

Something that people often seem to skip over in finding the right audience. However, this is arguably the single most important part of it!

If you don’t know who you serve, you can’t serve them, period.

A Specific Target Audience

It starts with creating an avatar.

Think of your avatar as a person. This person is the ideal reader for your blog or website. The person most likely to love your blog, share it to everyone, and buy something if you recommend it.

Do you know your avatar?

To figure this out you need to think about this ideal reader: 

  • Male/Female? 
  • Age? 
  • What are their goals and dreams?
  • How will they feel when they achieve those goals?
  • What do they value most?
  • What are their current pain points?
  • What are their fears? 
  • Where do they hang out online? 
  • What sources do they use for information?

These are things that are important to know.

Tip: Download my Perfect Avatar Creation Worksheets! This document guides you through the questions to ask until you have your first avatar!

How Do You Find Your Avatar?

This is where we start figuring out exactly who your avatar is.

You have 3 basic ways to do so:

  1. You ARE your avatar
  2. You know someone who is or might be
  3. You do some research on it

Situation 1: You ARE Your Avatar

For example:

Let’s say you’re the mother of 3, the oldest now 8 years old. If you want to write about motherhood and parenting small children, you know what mothers struggle with!

You have been there.

In a way you are your avatar. You’ve been through it, so you know what mothers (to be) go through, what they value, what the main issues are, etc. You have insight in your avatar’s world and way of thinking.

This will make it easy.

Whenever you’re thinking whether a topic for a blog post is a good idea, think:

Would or could I have benefitted from this had I known it earlier? Is this information useful for someone in this situation?

You have the knowledge to know what new mothers need.

Situation 2: You Know People Who Might be Your Avatar

This is a bit more difficult.

In the first situation, you deeply know your audience. In this situation, you don’t, but you do know people (either online or off) that just may be a perfect fit for your blog.

For example:

You want to write about career advice, and want to cater to students and those just out of college. 

However, you’ve been working for 26 years already. It was a completely different world back then for someone just out of college now. So, how can you relate to students?

The answer is simple:

Since you don’t have the first-hand experience of their problems, get that experience from others!

Maybe your niece is struggling to find a job. Tell her your plan and ask if you can talk to her about what it’s like.

Ask about what she would like to achieve, her main concerns, issues she’s facing, things she would love to know, or things she wished she knew earlier. Hone in on the things I’ve shared above.

Repeat this for a few people.

In talking to them, you get to know their world, their reality. You will learn what their problems are so that you can later solve them through your content.

In short:

Find the kind of person you want to serve and get familiar with their needs and wants.

Situation 3: You Have to Do Research

This is a final resort.

In case you have an idea for a blog, but you don’t know who your ideal audience would be, you will have to do some research into it.

The best way is to get into the right communities.

I’m active in multiple groups on Facebook, as well as subreddits. While I might not always have time to answer (or a question has been properly answered already), I read almost all the posts in those groups.

It helps me tremendously.

I get a sense of who the people in my niche are, what their struggles are and so much more. This helps me create the content I do.

Quick question:

Why do you think I picked the example for situation 1?

Simple:

Not only because it is an example that makes sense to everyone. I know from being active in the community that there are quite a few mommy bloggers, who would instantly relate to the example. 

I also know people tend to be scared of starting, growing and/or monetizing a new blog. It’s one of the reasons I take things slow and make sure every step is covered.

That’s research in action!

By being active in niche communities related to the topic you want to write about, you’ll learn who your audience is and what they care about.

Any of these 3 methods should give you a good idea of who your avatar is.

The Second Thing You Need to Get Started

Okay, so you know your audience, great!

The next thing you should have is a platform to build your audience on. It could be your blog, a YouTube channel, Instagram, etc. (or all of the above). 

Many advertisers will ask for this.

They are looking for people who can send them new customers, so they want that you have (or are building) an audience of people that are relevant. They also want to keep spam to a minimum.

Your website will serve as a first impression for the networks you sign up to.

Click here to get my FREE 5-Day training course where I show you everything you need to know to start, grow and monetize a thriving blog! It includes all the important lessons that took me years to learn, and frankly, it’s the kind of information that some people would charge $97 or $297 for!

Yours completely free, just click here to get this training.

What Products Should You Promote?

Before we go into HOW to find products to promote, it’s important to know what products you should promote.

There are mainly 3 categories of products:

  • Physical Products: They come in all sorts. Usually, the % commissions are lower, because of the costs of making them.
  • Digital Products: Like software or training. Usually have high % (>50% isn’t uncommon) commissions since giving 1 more person access usually costs the vendor nothing.
  • Services: Some businesses may run this, though far less common than the other 2 types. 

What should you look for in a product?

The first thing you should know is that with affiliate marketing, you tie your own name to the products you promote. If people get a terrible product after your recommendation, they won’t trust you anymore!

Rule #1:

Only promote quality products you believe in!

Promote Affiliate Products You Believe In
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I cannot stress that enough!

Personally, I try to keep any and all affiliate promotions to services I use or have used. In a rare case, I might include some that I researched and have great feedback.

Ideally, you would want to vet products personally and only use those you can wholeheartedly recommend. That part is up to you though.

Here’s what I look for and why:

  • Relevance: If a product doesn’t serve a clear need for your audience, it’s a no-go. Products irrelevant to your audience won’t generate (m)any sales and annoy your audience.
  • Quality: I only promote top quality products that I would use myself. Again, promoting bad quality products will rub poorly on you as well.
  • Price: If you know price can be an issue for your audience, it might not be the best idea to recommend high ticket items. If you do, you probably should include a lower-cost alternative as well.
  • Company: Is it a new company? Well established? Do they have other products that do well? 
  • Commission: Not a major factor for me, but if you have 2 products that are extremely similar in price/quality, the commission might be a deciding factor for you.

Overall, I’d say it’s mostly a judgment call.

Knowing your avatar, you need to take the time to reflect on whether the product will really help them get closer to their goals or solve a problem. If it doesn’t, it will hurt your reputation in the long run.

If it does, it’s likely worth becoming an affiliate for it.

How to Find Affiliate Programs to Join

How do you go about actually becoming an affiliate for a certain product?

There are generally 2 ways:

  1. Individual affiliate programs
  2. Affiliate Networks

The difference is that some companies have their own affiliate programs, while others use a network that helps them find affiliates for them.

Let’s start with the first one.

Finding and Joining Individual Affiliate Programs

You probably already use some products related to your niche.

What you can do is go to the company’s website to see if they have an affiliate program. Check the top menu as well as the footer and you will likely find it (if it exists).

If not, just do a search like this:

How to Find Affiliate Programs
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This should find the program if it exists.

If you cannot find the company’s affiliate program using the two methods above, then they likely don’t have one. Meaning you will have to find another product that would suit your audience.

Note:

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t recommend it to your audience. If it’s the best option for your audience, I believe you should definitely recommend that product, even if you don’t get paid for it. Some might disagree, but that’s my code of ethics.

If they do have one, it’s time to sign up.

Make sure to read their affiliate page carefully, as most of the details regarding the program will be on there. Additionally, you can usually find information on what they want from their affiliates.

Most programs will have some forms for you to fill in.

These of course include your personal details, but often they will ask questions about your website and how you plan to promote them. This is mostly done to weed out spammers and low-quality affiliates.

Since you’re reading this, you’re not among that category.

When asked simply tell them something along the lines of “I blog at site.com where I write about ABC. Your product XYZ would be a great resource for my readers, which I will talk about in future posts.”

You should be fine with something like that in most cases.

By using statements like the one above, I’ve gotten accepted into more than a dozen of affiliate programs before I even started my blog. At the time, it was a blank WordPress installation with the default theme and the “Hello world!” post.

So take that part seriously!

Letting them know you’re creating great content and promote them ethically really puts their minds at ease. They have their brand identity to protect, so providing information like that can be the difference between being accepted or declined.

Finding and Joining an Affiliate Network

A network simply works as a marketplace.

Product owners can list their products as well as their sales material. Affiliates who join the network can then browse these products and decide which ones they would like to promote.

Firstly you need to join a quality affiliate network, after that you can look for products you could become an affiliate for within the network.

The Best Affiliate Networks to Join

What you’re mainly looking for here are networks that have a lot of high quality products and have been well established.

Below are some good ones to join for beginners.

Amazon Associates Program

Yes, the one and only.

No matter what your niche is, you can be confident that Amazon sells products that cater to your market. On top of that, it is a well-established brand, so the people that you send from your blog will trust the site (meaning more conversions).

Not all is gold with Amazon’s affiliate program though…

The main downside to Amazon is that they offer a low % of commissions depending on the kind of products. Their commissions vary from 1% on video games to 10% on luxurious beauty products.

Note: With Amazon’s partner program, you need to make 3 sales within your first 90 days in order for your account to stay active. Shouldn’t be too big of an issue, but something to keep in mind,

Shareasale

This is another network with a lot of products in just about every category, both physical products as well as digital ones.

Shareasale has been around for 20 years and is a network that is trusted by both affiliates as well as the merchants selling their products. Definitely worth it to check them out.

Clickbank

Clickbank is an affiliate network for digital products.

A lot of the products you will see here are information products, but there will be things like software products as well. As with any affiliate program you will need to vet the products before you start promoting.

Sometimes the products on Clickbank aren’t as high quality, but you can certainly find some great affiliate products to promote.

CJ Affiliates

Formerly known as Commission Junction, CJ Affiliates has been around for a couple of decades now as well. They’re well established, have a lot of offers available and you should be able to find great products your audience will love.

No matter which route you take:

Remember that the number 1 thing you’re looking for in a product is its quality. Do not make the mistake of promoting anything low quality just to get a commission. In the short run, it seems fine, but in the long run, it’ll hurt your reputation and potential.

Affiliate Disclosures

This is an absolute MUST!

If you’re using affiliate marketing on your blog you must make it clear to your readers that you are. If you don’t you could potentially get in legal trouble with the FTC and you obviously don’t want that.

So what do you need to do?

Firstly you should create an affiliate disclosure page on your blog. On this page, you should make it crystal clear that you receive a commission on products people buy, and tell people more about it.

Here’s a great example from Pat Flynn:

Pat Flynn's Affiliate Disclosure
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Not only does he have the (legally) required disclosure, what I love about it is how he mentions that he does thorough research and only mentions products that bring a ton of value.

Exactly what I do myself and recommend you do as well!

Next:

The law requires you to have your affiliate disclosure prominently displayed on your blog. Meaning a link to your disclosure page on the footer of your blog will NOT do!

Instead, you need to specifically mention that your blog post contains affiliate links, at the top of the article. Not at the bottom, not somewhere hidden where people may not see it, but clearly displayed before someone starts reading.

Alternatively, you could put something like (affiliate link) directly behind any of your affiliate links.

Again:

Make sure that you have this in place. Not just because it’s legally required, but also for transparency. If done right it can show your readers that you are open and honest. 

Note: In addition to your affiliate disclosure your blog needs to have a privacy policy, terms and conditions and other disclaimers to be legally compliant. If you don’t have them yet (and don’t want to hire an expensive lawyer), I recommend getting these legal templates. They’re drafted by an actual lawyer and will save you a ton of money!

Creating an Affiliate Marketing Strategy

Let’s quickly recap:

At this point in the affiliate marketing guide, you know who you’re writing for, you know their needs, and you have become an affiliate for great products that your audience is going to love!

What’s next?

The obvious next step would be to incorporate this into the content you create and you don’t have to be salesy or aggressively promoting either.

Here are a couple of great ways to do affiliate marketing on your blog.

Create Epic Guides and How-To Content

You’re probably already doing this as a blogger.

Remember your avatar?

Your audience wants to solve their problems, or wants answers to their burning questions. The majority of your blog’s content should be focused on helping people reach their goals!

It’s your duty as a blogger to provide valuable content.

Whenever you write your next piece of content, I want you to think about where you can incorporate an affiliate link. In a way that it makes sense and helps your audience.

For example:

Hosting affiliate marketing example
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The screenshot above is from my detailed guide on how to start a blog. I walk them through each step they need to take, and at some point, they will need to get web hosting.

As you can see I simply share 2 of my preferred hosts as well as why I would recommend them. 

No hard sale. No pitch. Nothing of the sort.

Instead of having to do a lot of research on hosts, they get a couple of recommendations right there in the blog post. The affiliate links help the reader make a solid choice, so it’s beneficial for them as well.

I would have recommended them even if I wasn’t getting paid.

See how it works?

Some more examples:

If you’re showing people step-by-step how to grow tomatoes, you could link to the fertilizer you use and recommend.

Blogging about parenting? Perhaps an affiliate link to a baby stroller, toy or online learning tool for your child would make sense.

Writing about a certain video game? Perhaps your audience would benefit from an in-depth course to get better at the game. (Skill-Capped would be an example for League of Legends)

And the list goes on.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this guide: with a solid affiliate marketing strategy, your audience benefits from you marketing other products as well. Unlike ads, affiliate marketing improves their experience on your blog.

Keep on creating content like you’re used to, weave in an affiliate promotion where it makes sense.

Reviews & Product Comparisons

Product reviews are fantastic for making money with affiliate marketing!

Why?

The reason why they work so well is that there is commercial intent behind it. 

To illustrate:

If someone Googles something like “Samsung Galaxy S10 and iPhone 11 comparison”, they are most likely thinking about buying either one. They are looking for information on both phones so that they can make an educated decision.

People will use your review to make a choice!

However, that does not mean you should write to sell the product!

Instead:

What you would do here is take a product that you use (or have thoroughly researched) and provide an open and honest review about it. In your review, you want to cover The Good, The Bad and The Ugly! This way people can make up their own minds about the product.

Again, your goal is to educate!

That’s why you don’t only praise the product but also cover any flaws. One-sided reviews aren’t nearly as trustworthy and your audience can usually see through it!

The same goes for comparisons.

You want to add plenty of content about each individual product (good and bad). Tell people what to look for when making a decision and things like that.

Here’s an excellent example for Bitcoin miners. 

I found this a while back when I was considering getting some for myself, and I found that blog post. 

Read that post and see what they do.

Whether you’re interested in crypto or not, the post above is a great example of how to do an awesome review post! That post is over 6000 words of content (not counting images and videos embedded).

You want to emulate that in your own reviews.

Make it extensive so that people can get all of the relevant information. Tell them who it’s for and NOT for, explain the features and more importantly the benefits the user will get from those features.

Do that and you should be well on your way with review posts!

Resource Pages

This can be a valuable page on your blog, both for you and your readers.

What’s a resource page?

Simply put it’s a page on your blog where you list all your recommended resources and things you use yourself. You’ll explain why you love them and what purpose they serve you.

You can check out my favorite blogging resources to give you an idea.

A (new) blogger can arrive at that page and just look around. They will get an idea of how I do things and the tools I use for them. They can then make up their own mind about them. That resource page is  ~15000 words long because I include a lot of information on each of the products listed.

Some may make a purchase, most won’t.

Again, I want to stress that you should only add products here that add value to your reader! Your reader is the number 1 thing, this page is NOT about getting commissions (though it works well for that too).

Instead, provide the best resources for your audience.

Yes, I’m aware I’m repeating myself.
No, I’m not sorry.
Yes, I will keep doing it.

Because it’s simply that important!

When creating your resource page, you can use things like tools that you use, useful articles/videos/guides, courses (free or paid), books, podcasts, and the like.

Product Case Studies

Have you had success using a certain product yourself?

If so this is definitely a type of content you should consider as part of your affiliate marketing strategy, for it can be extremely effective.

Here’s what you do:

With this type of blog post, you are essentially teaching people how you got a certain result (that your audience wants to achieve too). The difference with a “regular” how-to guide is that an article like this is centered around a product.

Here’s an example:

UpViral Case Study: 1,057 leads in 7 days with £5 ad spend

This kind of content can be powerful in making sales!

Why?

Let’s say someone is considering purchasing Upviral (a viral marketing tool). Someone might see the features and promises the company makes, but is still skeptical. After all, it’s the company itself telling people how great their product is (it actually is by the way).

So what do people do?

They go to Google and search for either a review or a case study. They see the above post and read it, which might convince them that it’s a good fit for them. When they go through one of the links in the article and buy, the writer will get a commission for that.

“Best of” Lists

You have seen these without a doubt.

You know, those articles with titles like “The 10 Best Gaming Headsets for 2020” and similar. While they’re essentially product comparisons with multiple products, I couldn’t leave them out of this affiliate marketing guide.

If you want to create this kind of content:

  • Do proper research! You probably won’t be able to personally test 10+ items yourself. So you will need to do thorough research to make sure the products are indeed some of the best out there.
  • Again, provide background information on each product, list specifications, their pros, their cons, and your overall opinion on them.
  • Include some products of different price categories. Not everyone may be able to afford a $2000 camera, which is the best of the best. However, there might be a $500 one that’s way better than other cameras in the same price range. So it might be the best budget camera.

There isn’t necessarily 1 winner.

It could be that number 3 on the list is best for people who want convenience, number 5 is the best one of a budget, and number 9 is great for people with a specific need. Including that kind of information really benefits your readers.

Email Marketing

This is one I can’t leave out!

Hopefully, you’re already building an email list for your blog. If not the best time to start would be today, because it’s an incredible tool to get people back to your blog over and over again!

It serves an important purpose in affiliate marketing as well.

First and foremost, through email marketing, you can provide value to people over a longer period of time. This then builds the trust between you and your subscribers, which is needed for people to trust your recommendations enough to click the link and buy.

Don’t have a list? Get started with ConvertKit today.

Additionally:

Where your blog is mostly about providing value first and just subtly selling, with email you can occasionally be more aggressive by dedicating one or a few emails directly to selling a product (either your own or as an affiliate). 

Just remember:

Most of your emails should be valuable as well. Otherwise, people will just unsubscribe, don’t open your emails, or worse: mark them as spam!

Not sure how to do that?

Don’t worry, I got you covered! I’ve created a 7-Day email course that will teach you exactly how to get an engaged email list, how to get more people actually wanting to get emails from you, and how to sell with email as well, without being an ass about it!

It’s honestly a tool every affiliate marketer should have in his/her arsenal! 

Affiliate Marketing Tools

Speaking of tools…

While the process of making money as an affiliate is straightforward, there are some tools that can make it easier. You can continue your blog as usual while monetizing it without any of these tools, but they’re here to help with different aspects.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is without a doubt the best keyword research tool out there today! Ranking your blog posts on Google for the right keywords is crucial to getting people to your blog and making money from your content.

They have a vast amount of data, as well as features like a rank tracker, content and backlink analysis as well as a website audit tool. While the tool itself is great, the main con is the pricing. 

You definitely pay for the quality!

Their plans start at $99 per month, with a $7 trial for 7 days so you can check them out. If money is an issue, I’d recommend starting without it and investing in it once you start making money with your blog.

Alternatives: Ubersuggest and Keywords Everywhere are some free/cheap alternatives.

Update: Since writing this post, Ahrefs has created its Webmaster Tools, which is completely free. It gives you way more details on your rankings, and backlinks compared to Google’s tools.

ConvertKit

This is my autoresponder of choice.

This is the tool I personally use to build my email list and send emails with. They have some advanced automation tools which allow me to automatically send out emails at specific intervals after someone subscribes.

Why ConvertKit?

One of the reasons I like it so much is because of some advanced features like being able to “tag” people. For example, you can tag customers of a specific course or tag people interested in email marketing automatically when they sign up for my email marketing training.

That’s a feature usually only the more advances (and expensive autoresponders have). However, despite having a lot of features, Convertkit is pretty user friendly!

Try them yourself with a free trial.

Note: They have a free plan, but it doesn’t include automation, which is a must. Their paid plan is $29/month, so if spending that amount is out of the question, don’t even bother signing up right now, go with one of the free alternatives until you make enough to afford ConvertiKit.

Alternatives: MailerLite and Mailchimp are free alternatives up until a certain amount of subscribers. They do add their branding at the bottom of emails though (for the free plan).

Quuu Promote

This is the one thing we haven’t talked about in this guide yet:

Traffic!

The reason is that traffic is a completely different guide if you want to cover it thoroughly. You can check out this post for 7 effective ways to drive traffic to a blog if you want to learn more. That should help you get started with driving traffic.

On to Quuu promote:

This is a tool that I use to help out with content promotion.

Here’s how it works:

Just like yourself, other bloggers and influencers need interesting content to share on social media to keep their audience engaged. Quuu curates content in a ton of different categories, so that they have great blog posts to share with them.

When you submit your content to Quuu Promote, people within the same niche as you will share your articles with their followers on social media. This will drive traffic to your articles and give you more exposure.

Check them out here.

Tip: When people share your content, reach out to each and every one of them. 

Thank them for sharing it and take the conversation from there (try asking a question). It might turn into them linking to it as well, working together in one way or even just a new blogging friend you can talk with and discuss ideas.

Alternatives: Haven’t been able to find a good alternative as of yet.

Thrive Themes Membership

Where do I even begin on this one?

There are a ton of their products and features that I use myself on this blog, and that I can wholeheartedly recommend. If you use them well they can certainly help you get more email subscribers.

And more subscribers = More money to be made!

Let’s take a look at the individual products included with the membership (the ones I use at least):

Thrive Leads

All the lead capture forms on this blog were made with this tool.

While ConvertKit is a great tool, I’ve never been able to create forms with it that look great on my blog. With Thrive Leads on the other hand I have a lot of different templates that I can fully customize.

They integrate with pretty much every autoresponder as well.

Your forms really make a big difference. If you can get just 1 more % of your visitors to become a lead, you have a significant increase in your earnings! So a plugin like this is essential!

Thrive Architect + Optimize

Sometimes you want more than just a form on the sidebar to get people to download your lead magnet.

That’s what Thrive Architect does.

This is a tool that I use to create lead capture pages using a drag and drop editor. These come into play when I want to advertise, say on Facebook. It’s (almost) never profitable to send people to a blog post and hope for the best.

Instead, I send them to a page like this:

Landing Page Example

As you can see the page is really simple without any distractions. The only purpose of a page like this is to get people to enter their email in exchange for my free gift.

Alternatives: 

For clarity: I do not consider this the best tool out there to create lead capture pages.

The main reason I’m recommending this one is because of the price, as I know quite a few of my readers are on a budget. There are better options out there, but this one is included in the Thrive Membership, which is about a third of the cost of other tools.

Price not an issue?

If you’re alright with spending more for better quality landing pages, I would recommend using either LeadPages or ClickFunnels. Either tool will be a great investment for your blog! If you go with Leadpages, make sure to pick the pro package, as the standard one does not include A/B testing.

You really want that to increase your conversions and thus income.

Thrive Theme Builder

I’ve built my entire blog with this.

The great thing about the Thrive Theme Builder is that it is conversion focused. Meaning that in all the prominent places on your blog, like the header, footer, and sidebar, there are forms to capture people’s information already. It’s built into the design.

And that’s what you want.

You should absolutely be building your email list if you want to make money blogging.

It’s one of the more expensive options for a theme, but I’d say definitely worth it.

Alternatives: My Theme Shop, Astra & Theme Forest have quite a few themes that you can use. You’ll need to find something that suits your desired look and that is great for converting visitors to leads.

And that’s just about it in terms of affiliate marketing tools!

Besides a good understanding of your audience, your blog and high-quality content, you don’t really need that much to get started with affiliate marketing. 

Feel free to upgrade with any of the products as you see fit, they’re all pretty good and I use them myself. 

7 Affiliate Marketing Tips

We’re nearing the end of this affiliate marketing guide…

But before you get started yourself, allow me to give you some final tips to make your affiliate marketing quest more effective. So that you can go out with full confidence this will work for you!

1. Be Ethical about it!

If you don’t, it will bite you in the ass!

People aren’t stupid, so they’ll see through any shady tactics sooner or later. Once word gets out, you can kiss your reputation (as well as income) goodbye!

A few points here:

For starters, don’t try to hide that you are getting paid for your recommendations (people will likely see through it anyway). Be upfront about it. Besides, it’s legally required in many countries. Failing to do so can get you in legal trouble! Check out these legal documents if you haven’t already.

Secondly, make sure you do thorough research on any product you promote. Recommending a B-grade product that barely brings value to the customer is going to rub badly on your reputation as well!

High Quality + Transparency = Win!

2. It’s NOT about you!

I get it…

You want to monetize your blog so that you can make money by doing something you love.

However, your wants come second, behind your readers’. At every step ask yourself whether what you’re doing or writing about is beneficial to your readers. Does it help someone if they buy product X?

If not, stop and reconsider!

Self Centered Content does Not Help Your Audience
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On the other hand: If someone picks up your recommendation and loves it, that person will trust you a lot more, visit your blog again and buy through you the next time as well. Because they know you stand for quality!

Providing value wins long term!

3. Limit Your Promotions

Just to be clear:

It’s one thing to have some affiliate promotions within great content. It’s a completely different thing to have some content within a ton of affiliate promotions.

You’re not a walking advertisement!

Coming back to the previous point, you’re an expert in your niche. Someone your audience comes to learn something new. That should always be the focus.

4. Don’t Forget About Lead Magnets

These can be a good source of income!

After all, someone has just given you their contact information to download your freebie. There is already some level of trust there. 

Of course, your lead magnet itself should be valuable and solve a problem your audience is having! However, if a certain product can make things easier, it’s fine to mention it and link to it within your lead magnet.

Just don’t turn it into an advertisement!

(Dear god I am sounding like a broken record…)

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Show Yourself

We’re all people here.

Generally speaking, we tend to identify with other people way better than with a faceless business. Hence we trust someone we know a lot more than a commercial or advertisement.

The same goes for blogging.

If people can get a sense of your personality through your writing, pictures, or even by video blogging, you build a deeper connection with them. Your blog topic isn’t unique, but YOU are!

Use it.

When somebody knows, likes, and trusts you, they will come back to your blog for more information. They will be a lot less skeptical of a product recommendation as well.

Hint: Using video is great for this!

6. Features vs Benefits

This is powerful in persuasion!

Ever heard this saying:

You don’t buy a drill because you want a drill. You buy a drill because you want a hole (in the wall).

Here’s what it means:

If you’re doing a review, talk less about the features of the product. Instead, talk about the benefit that someone will get from using the product.

Or better yet: Expand a bit on what it will feel like when someone receives the benefit.

For example:

Feature: Noise cancellation headphones.
Benefit: You won’t hear the people talking on the train.
The benefit of the benefit: You’ll arrive at home/work more relaxed.

Or:

Feature: Extra-large phone battery.
Benefit: More time for calls, apps, and doing other things on your phone.
The benefit of the benefit: Don’t ever worry about your phone dying after a long day!

See the difference?

7. Use Video

While it can be intimidating to do, a good video can help a ton!

Instead of just having a written guide or tutorial, you can actively show off how a product would benefit the user in completing a task.

Show, don’t just tell!

There are a couple of reasons why I recommend using video, but there is no doubt a good tutorial video or walkthrough can help you sell more.

Scared of talking in front of the camera? Take up my 7-Day Video Challenge!.

Get Started With Affiliate Marketing!

It’s like going to the gym…

You can read about it all day long, but you will never get the results unless you get up and actually work out.

The same is true here.

After reading this affiliate marketing guide you have all the information you need to get out there and monetize your blog. 

Now it’s up to you to implement!

If needed, bookmark this page so that you can come back to it if you need it later on.

Otherwise, dive right in!

Quick Win: If you have blog posts where you’re already talking about certain products, see if you can replace any regular links to those products with an affiliate link.

Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing
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