This week I had a great catch-up conversation with one of my good friends who is a professional musician that used to work with for years in various bands. (Yes, prior to starting a web design business, I worked as a singer.)
He mentioned that he was looking for new ways to make extra money on the side. I asked him if he ever considered starting a blog and earning passive income via affiliate marketing.
He replied, “No, not really. What’s affiliate marketing?”
I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t know what I was talking about. The more I talk to people about online business opportunities, the more I realize that this is new territory for a lot of people.
So, I thought about how I could explain affiliate marketing to the uninitiated, and here’s what I said:
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Of course, there’s a little bit more to it than that, and I’ll go into greater detail below, but for the most part that’s it.
How to Make Extra Money with Affiliate Marketing
Find Your Area of Expertise
Everybody has a wealth of knowledge about something that they can share with others. In my friend’s case above, he has years of knowledge and experience as a working musician, producer, and music teacher. Boom! Expertise identified.
What’s yours? Are you a bargain shopper? Do you DIY all of your home decor? Did you reach a dramatic fitness goal? Are you a budget traveler?
You have a wealth of knowledge about something, and there are plenty of people in the world who could benefit from knowing what you know. Go with that. It’s that simple.
2. Create a List of Products Related to Your Expertise
This is the fun part, because you get to take stock of all of the gadgets and apps and products you use and love that relate to your wealth of knowledge.
For someone like my friend who is a professional musician, I imagine his list would include musical instruments, gear used in the studio and onstage, music production software, and materials for music lessons. A list like that could easily have 20-30 items on it.
No item is too silly or too obvious. The point of the exercise is to identify products you use and love that you can recommend to others.
3. Find Affiliate Programs for Products You Love
Once you have your list of recommendations, find out which websites sell them and if those sites have affiliate programs. These are the companies that will give you a commission for selling their products.
For example, Amazon has one of the most popular affiliate programs, but there are plenty of specialty websites that do, too. When in doubt, do a quick Google search or check a website’s footer for a link to their affiliate program.
The big takeaway from this step is that once you sign up as an affiliate, you’ll receive a unique tracking link that you use for your products. I’ll go into more detail about tracking below.
4. Create Online Content About Your Recommendations
The most common ways to promote affiliate links are by writing blog posts or creating YouTube videos.
You know those articles you randomly find online where someone has listed the top 3, 5 or 10 items that are “the best” of “the essentials,” and then they link that item to Amazon? Well, you’ve been on the receiving end of affiliate marketing.
The same thing applies to YouTube. Whenever you watch a product review and the channel host says the products mentioned in the video are linked in the notes, that is definitely an affiliate link they’re using.
So now it’s your turn to create some content where you recommend and review stuff, and also provide a link for your readers and viewers to purchase the product.
Here’s a tip: Don’t be selfish.
Create posts that provide value to your readers and viewers. You get extra brownie points when your recommendations provide a solution to a problem they may be having. When you benefit others, you’ll reap the rewards.
5. Add Affiliate Tracking Links to Your Content
Remember when you signed up for those affiliate programs and you got a unique tracking link? Well, that link is what you’ll use in your posts so the program can track your sales commissions.
Here’s another tip: Cookies are on your side.
Cookies are basically little bits of data stored on your browser that keep track of the websites you visit, when you were there and who sent you.
As an affiliate, this works in your favor. Most affiliate links have a cookie life that last anywhere from 24 hours to 90 days. That means that even if someone uses your link to visit a retail site but doesn’t buy anything, the next time they visit that site, their browser will remember the cookie from your site and you’ll be awarded a commission.
Keep in mind that the cookie life varies from program to program. Do your due diligence and read each affiliate programs’ terms and conditions so you know how commissions are tracked.
6. The Ethics of Affiliate Marketing
So now you know how to make some extra money on your website. It is still important to be ethical and forthright.
If you’re using affiliate links, you should disclose that in your post. Most affiliate programs will require it, actually. Your readers will trust you and thank you for your transparency.
Also, don’t be shady and recommend something you don’t use or haven’t paid for with your own money. Your credibility is on the line, and you’ll only be hurting yourself in the long run if you try to take advantage of others.
Do you want a website that makes money? Schedule your free consultation and let’s talk about your goals!