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Issue #16 • April 2018

How to Choose a Product to Start Affiliate Marketing

Ads and Sponsorships Business Models

Scroll, scroll, link… Scroll, scroll, more links…

Have you ever wondered why so many bloggers include links within their blog content?

What you may not realize is there’s often an in-depth strategy behind a content creator’s linking process, especially for online influencers. Not only does it help their SEO efforts, but they’re also able to generate additional income from certain clicks.

Wait, but how? We’re going to go in-depth into the art of affiliate marketing in this blog post.

When a blogger becomes an affiliate for a specific brand or product, they have the ability to add referral links to any of their marketing materials. We’re talking articles, social media posts, videos, podcast episodes, you name it.

Maybe you’ve heard the term “affiliate” tossed around but aren’t quite sure what it means or all that it entails. Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with the ins and outs of affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing incentivizes content creators to share and sell products or services created by other businesses in exchange for a sales commission. The exact commission an affiliate receives is based on the company’s affiliate program.

You may not realize just how many websites you normally shop with have an affiliate program. With popular affiliate programs from retailers like Amazon and eBay, your earning potential can skyrocket with affiliate marketing.

Adding a few affiliate links to your next blog post may seem like an easy and fast way to generate more income, but to do affiliate marketing well, it takes a more substantial strategy.

Is affiliate marketing the right move for your online business?

If you find yourself already sharing your favorite tech resources, office supplies, and novels with your blog readers, affiliate marketing is a no brainer! You can make additional income by replacing your direct links with automatically generated affiliate links.

Take our friend and fellow ConvertKit user, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, for example. By adding affiliate links to his blog posts, he increased his monthly income by over $5,000 from 2008 to 2010. Just think what you could invest in with that much more money in your pocket every month.

If that sounds impressive, just wait until 2012 when his monthly affiliate-only income jumped to over $40,000. This is a perfect example of just how influential affiliate marketing can be within an online business.

Need more convincing? We have more benefits of affiliate marketing to share with you.

Affiliate marketing provides additional income streams

We believe there is power in diversifying your income. When you create a blog or freelance business, your bottom line will naturally fluctuate from month to month.

The more streams of income you have, the more you’ll able to sustain your business over time. The most successful business models are created with multiple sources of income for optimal long-term growth.

Affiliate marketing monetizes free content you’ve already created

As a blogger, you already put so much energy into creating regular blog and social media content in order to grow your online audience. By adding affiliate links and sponsorship opportunities, you could find that your free content actually pays off, literally.

If you have a full archive of blog posts already created, we have some great news! You can add affiliate links to already published blog posts and reintroduce them into your social media promotion calendar. This will drive more traffic and more conversions. It’s never too late to get started.

Affiliate marketing fits within your lifestyle changes

If you’re planning on building your business as a new stay-at-home parent or travel blogging your way around the world, you’ll want to start incorporating additional ways to bring in passive income.

When you make a major lifestyle shift, you may not have as much time or energy to create your own products as you did in the past. That’s more than okay! Affiliate marketing will give you the opportunity to make some extra cash on autopilot when you strategically partner with the right brands.

How to choose a product to start affiliate marketing

How to choose a product to affiliate market

Now that you’re considering adding affiliate marketing to your business model, let’s talk about how to choose which products to market. You don’t want to choose just any product.

If you become an affiliate for ANY opportunity that comes your way, you’ll:

  • Have a hard time marketing your best income producing affiliate links because you are you too focused on quantity over quality.
  • Take authenticity out of your marketing because you’re willing to promote any product under the sun.
  • Be seen as less trustworthy if you don’t do the proper research into each company you intend to promote through your own brand.

It’s important to decide what kinds of products you want to affiliate market now so when you continue to grow your personal brand, you don’t compromise your values.

So how do you go about making sure you’re putting your name behind the right products?

Pick a product that you’ve used before

While it may be tempting to promote a book you haven’t read yet or an online course you haven’t touched, resist the urge to dive head-first into promoting a product you don’t have experience with.

If you were to create a roundup on your blog on your podcast gear recommendations before launching your own podcast, your audience may be confused. That’s why it’s important to only become an affiliate for brands you’ve used in the past.

It’s even better if you have unique, personal anecdotes of when a product helped you accomplish something. Whether the product helped you increase your conversion rate in business or create the best smokey-eye look ever, adding your own commentary will only enhance your affiliate marketing efforts.

Choose products that fit within your niche

If your blog teaches small businesses how to DIY their social media content but you include affiliate links to your favorite hair salon products, there will be an automatic disconnect.

That doesn’t mean you can’t show your favorite brands some love. It just may not be a part of your content marketing plan for your educational blog since it doesn’t fit your blog topics.

If you really want to promote a certain product that at a first glance doesn’t seem to fit your niche, think about a different perspective you can bring to your audience. Maybe you could create a blog post on preparing for a brand photoshoot to produce a month’s worth of social media content.

In this example, you may be able to fit in a mention of the salon products as long as the main focus is still on creating social media content. When in doubt, get creative! It still makes the most sense to choose products that are closest to your niche, but your niche doesn’t need to put you in a box either.

Promote companies you can stand behind

You must, I repeat must, make sure your core values align with the company’s core values before you affiliate market their products. If there’s a clear disconnect between the purpose of your brand and theirs, it won’t feel like a natural fit to your audience.

Some bloggers have made the mistake of partnering with brands who had a poor reputation with the public and found their influence took a hit after marketing their products.

The best way to ensure this never happens to you is to do your research before expressing an interest in collaborating or becoming an affiliate. It’s a good way to protect yourself and your personal brand.

You can usually learn more about a company by reading their About page or looking more into their blog content to see what they value. When in doubt, ask your contact at the company for more information. They will probably be impressed you asked.

Affiliate disclosures: the what, why, and how

Have you ever seen a blog post start with “This article may contain affiliate links”? That’s because the FTC (short for the Federal Trade Commission) requires that all online content creators disclose that they are posting affiliate links.

General rules for affiliate disclosures:

FTC-rules-for-affiliate-marketing

Disclosures must be placed before affiliate links. This means that you must publicly state that the blog post contains affiliate links above the fold and before you introduce your body of content. It must be in plain sight so visitors see it before reading your article.

Your disclosure must be noticeable. Some bloggers tried to hide their affiliate disclosure by decreasing the font size or coloring the text to where it’s hardly visible. To fall within the FTC guidelines, you’ll want to use the same text style as you use for the rest of your blog content.

Disclosing in your header or footer isn’t enough. The FTC requires that all bloggers disclose that the blog post contains an affiliate link each time it is used. Using a catch-all, static disclosure elsewhere on your website doesn’t follow FTC guidelines.

Your best solution to affiliate disclosures

When in doubt, include clear language about how you’re using affiliate marketing within your content marketing strategy. Otherwise, you can go to FTC.gov to make sure you’re working within their guidelines.

If you’re worried about how your audience will perceive affiliate marketing, change their perspective with some added text. After disclosing that affiliate links are found in the blog post, add commentary like “purchasing from this link helps me create more epic blog content for you every week – thank you for your support!” or something similar.

This addition will not only reframe your audience member’s opinion of affiliate marketing but will also add personality to an otherwise typical disclosure.

Where to affiliate market your chosen products

Now that we’ve got most of the research portion of affiliate marketing, we can move to the fun part. If you’re asking yourself where you can include affiliate links, we have a few ideas to help you get the ball rolling.

  • Share affiliate link on social media (Instagram story, tweet, Facebook post, etc.)
  • Share affiliate link in your blog post (go through archive to see if you can add any)
  • Share affiliate link in the description of your YouTube or Facebook Live video
  • Share affiliate link in your email marketing (our personal favorite, of course!)
  • Share affiliate link in a dedicated resources page on your website

Are you ready to start affiliate marketing products? Think about joining relevant affiliate programs! We have a full guide of over 30+ affiliate programs in this Tradecraft issue.

Which affiliate marketing ideas sound like the best fit for your business? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Kayla Hollatz

Kayla Hollatz is a copywriter and content creator for creative entrepreneurs who want their words to connect and convert. Few things make her happier than ghostwriting for clients in her studio, aka her four-season porch with a lake view. She can frequently be found fighting Minnesota winters with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

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