Monday, July 15, 2019

The Writers Guide to Affiliate Marketing

Blog Post Updated 20/10/2019.


Affiliate Marketing, What's It All About?

With the ever widening innovations of the internet, and technology with cookie trackers capable of predicting which products you're likely to purchase, and interactive web pages.  It's know wonder that people have been taking advantage of this important technology.  With advertisements popping up, showing products you're looking for.

In the early days of the internet many people would have dodged most pop-up advertisements, but these days you have ads, and pop-ups all over the place, appearing on hundreds of websites, enticing you into a good deal.

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But somewhere in the world somebody has clicked on an advertisement, and benefited from the product being sold, while the webmaster has gained a small commission for their handy work.



In this game there are no losers, and both parties benefit.  Not a penny of cash is taken from the customer until they make the sale.  It's a win win situation for all involved.

So where did affiliate marketing begin?

Brief History of Affiliate Marketing

Paying commissions and revenue sharing are not new concepts, but the transition of revenue share principles to mainstream e-commerce began in November 1994, four years after the application of the world wide web.

The idea was conceived and implemented by William Tobin with his company PC Flowers and Gifts, generating sales exceeding $6 million per year, based on a business model that paid a commission on sales to the Prodigy network.

Another surprising pioneer in the field of affiliate marketing was Cyber Erotica, which had its own cost per click program.

By July of 1996 Amazon, via Amazon.com,  started its own associate program which allowed affiliates to place ads and text links on their websites, linking directly to the Amazon website products.  If a customer bought a book from Amazon, a commission was given to the associate.  The Amazon Associate program has been so popular it's become a model many businesses have tried to imitate.

Things You Need to Know About Affiliate Marketing

To put it simply affiliate marketer's drive traffic to e-commerce sites in return for a commission.  This requires the customer to buy a product from a connected link.

The Process

Usually there are four parties involved:

Merchant

A retailer or advertiser looking to increase sales.  The merchant gives a publisher a trackable link to his site. The publisher includes this link in his content.  The reader/customer follows that link to the retailer's site and buys the product, the retailer pays the publisher a commission on that sale.

Network

Big retailers such as Amazon start their own affiliate programs but go through an affiliate network.

These networks are essentially the middle man between multiple merchants and publishers.  This gives the publisher access to various merchants under the same network.

Publisher

These are the blog and website owners, that include affiliate links on their websites to promote the products from their chosen affiliate network, in the hope that people will click on the links and purchase.


Customer

The client or prospect who clicks on the publishers site and purchases something through a link or advertisement.

Start Your Blog and Create Great Content

If you haven't started your own blog or author platform check out my post How to Start a Self-hosted Blog with Blogger and Make Money Online.  This will show you how to start your own  blog today.

Best Affiliate Programs for Writers

You may already be using products or services that have their own affiliate programs or you may want find a few new ones to try out.

When you start affiliate marketing you need to find products that target your particular blog audience.  Here are few to get you started:

Amazon Associates Program

If you've already bought items from Amazon you'll know how vast their catalogue of products is.  You can choose from thousands of books, gifts, computers, stationery etc. for your blog.  The beauty of Amazon is that the more you sell the more commission you earn.  I've sold everything from water bottles to scarves.

People don't need to buy the product that is linked on your blog, all they have to do is start filling their shopping carts.

ShareASale

ShareASale is an affiliate marketing network that offers a variety of different affiliate programs to direct sales to the merchant. 


CreativeLive

CreativeLive is a free online school for artists and entrepreneurs and offers thousands of classes to help people learn real-life skills.

Fotor

Fotor is part of the ShareASale affiliate program, a well-known photo editing tool (I use this to create my blog images and book covers) to enhance and create images online.

PicMonkey

Another photo editing tool used by thousands of bloggers worldwide to create amazing images.

Rakuten Affiliate Network

Formerly known as LinkShare, Rakuten offers a plethora of advertisers.  I use Udemy advertising on my blog because they have one of the biggest directories of courses online.

Impact Radius

It's very much like the Rakuten Affiliate Network and ShareASale.  It houses hundreds of advertisers under one umbrella.  Here are a couple of the advertisers I use from Impact Radius:

SkillShare

Skillshare is another learning community online offering thousands of classes in business, writing, blogging, art, design etc.

Hostgator

Hostgator is a global web hosting provider that also offers website building, VPS Hosting, Reseller Hosting, domain names, SEO and so much more.

Bluehost

A very similar web host provider, also has it's own affiliate programme.

How to Promote Your Affiliate Links

The Review Post

You can introduce your reader to a product through an article review.  With this article your opinion guides them to understanding why they should buy it.

Things to remember when writing a review a post for your affiliate product:
  • Choose a product you're likely to use yourself
  • Write the review in a personal tone
  • Make sure your review is honest
The How-to Article

You often find that some products require a guide.  This is a great opportunity for affiliate product promotion.  You can write your own tutorial, or even create a video for the product.

The Coupon Code

Saving money is a huge incentive when marketing a product.

Your aim as an affiliate marketer is to make sure the customer clicks the affiliate link, otherwise the sale won't count.

The Featured Post

Whether its a review post or coupon code post you need to point your readers to it to get the most views possible.  On Blogger its a "Featured Post".

Add a Banner on the Sidebar or Bottom of the Page

Banner ads work well with a larger audience, the fewer the better.  Too many and it will put people off visiting your blog.

Integrating Affiliate Links

Add affiliate links to as many relevant blog posts as possible. Go through old blog posts and add appropriate links.

Promoting Affiliate Links on Social Media

Use Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to promote your links.  I find Twitter a great place to market affiliate links, make sure you let your followers know its ad by using hashstags such as #Ad.

Affiliate Marketing on Pinterest

Making Money on Pinterest

Due to a deluge of spammy pins in 2015, Pinterest banned affiliate marketing on their platform.

Making money on Pinterest has become a key part of creating revenue for many writers online.  As I've explained in previous blog posts, social media can be one the main places to start an income stream.


Many social media users don't even have a blog.

To really make money it takes time and patience to master, but when you do you'll have the start of what will become a very worthwhile income stream for you and your business.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work on Pinterest?

Pinterest users have been doing this since 2018, and most pinners have been getting great results.  With 200 million active users worldwide, the world's your oyster on Pinterest.

Here are three tips to get you start with your affiliate links on Pinterest:

1. Develop Pinterest Boards to Display Products

Branding your Pinterest boards will make you and your business look more professional, and it will give people the opportunity to see that you're serious, without too much reading.

Once you've given your Pinterest profile a clear description, each board requires a relevant title and short description to let your followers know what they're looking at.

All the boards you create should include relevant pins on that particular subject, and if you have a blog, make sure you're regularly posting on Pinterest.  You want to become a resource for other like-minded bloggers.

Now that you've established your boards it's time to think about adding affiliate links.

2. Choose Appropriate Affiliate Products to Add to Your Boards

Once you've signed up to an affiliate program it shouldn't be too difficult to choose which board to pin your products to.

Pinning an affiliate link is much the same as normal pinning, with the added difference that your adding your description, affiliate link and disclosure.

Quick note: The FTC requires you disclose all your affiliate links on all social media platforms you're using.  You can do this by simply adding one of the following hashtags #Ad, #affiliatelink, #sponsored.

According to this article from Amazon Associates blog it is acceptable to pin Amazon affiliate links.

Related: 4 Great Reasons to Use Fotor for Blogging


8 Rules to Follow When Posting Affiliate Links on Pinterest

1. Add a Clear Disclosure to All Affiliate Pins

2. Refresh Current Pins

3. Start Boards to Include Affiliate Products

4. Write Good Board Descriptions

5. use Affiliate Links Tastefully

6. Create More than One Image

7. Never Use Link Shortners on Pinterest



Affiliate Marketing on Twitter

Finding places to promote your affiliate links can be difficult, but in recent years this has become a lot easier, with most social media platforms allowing you to do so.

If  affliliate links are posted on Twitter in the right way, can lead to a win win situation between the affiliate marketer and their followers.

If you're a blogger looking for extra revenue stream, look no further.

Here are 7 simple tips to promote affiliate links on Twitter:

1. Always Promote Products Relevant to Your Brand

Many people post links that have nothing to do with what they're actually writing about, which isn't clever.  Posting links like this holds little water with your audience, and will potentially annoy your readers.  Always make sure the products you're promoting are relevant to your brand.

2.  Use Links You've Already Tried 

People often add affiliate links from products they've tested themselves.  Giving their own mini review through a Twitter post.  People like personal recommendations, and are more likely to use them if they've been recommended to them.

3. Use Affiliate Links to Start a Conversation

Affiliate links can be used to start a conversation on Twitter, and can be slipped in at the appropriate time, along with a small declaration that they are affiliate links.  The opposite of this particular tactic would be the use of 'cold calling' which can often be a put off.

4. Use Affiliate Links Indirectly

This can be done through blog posts, and is less intrusive than an direct link tweet.  You can do this through product reviews and best of lists on your blog.

5. Be Prudent With Your Affiliate Links

Don't sell, sell, sell to your audience.  Make sure that your audience likes the fact that you're posting affiliate links, otherwise you'll lose followers.

If you're not posting any links at all on your Twitter feed, start gradually, by posting a one may be once a week to begin with.  You'll soon know if you're links are liked or not by your audience.

6.  Understand What Your Audience Wants

The best way to know if you're being successful with your affiliate links is to check your analytics and if you're making any money out of the links you're posting.

 7. Post Affiliate Links That Are Valuable to Your Followers

This goes right back to the point about being relevant.  It's surprising what you can discover about your audience, just by what they purchase through Amazon.  There's no doubt that you'll get a lot of clicks, but conversions take time, along with trust from your audience.

Extra Promotional Tips
  • Create a series around a product
  • Write a comparison post
  • Create a post when a product adds a new feature
  • Create a Resource Page
Be Transparent With a Disclosure Policy

If you're selling other peoples products you must let all your blog visitors know by simply adding a  disclosure notice on your blog front page, each blog post that contains affiliate links, and in your Terms and Conditions page.  It may not sound important but not doing it could get you into a whole lot of trouble!

The FTC or Federal Trade Commission wants all affiliate marketers to make a clear disclosure of all affiliate links.

Outcome:  A Revenue Stream Requiring Low Investment

Don't look at affiliate marketing as the be all and end all of making money on your website.

Try other ways of making money like writing eBooks or selling courses, and stick to products within your niche and you can't go wrong.


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