Affiliate Marketing 101: The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Beginner Bloggers
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money blogging. In this affiliate marketing for beginners crash course article we will break down all the aspects of affiliate marketing 101and how you can make money blogging.
Affiliate marketing might sound a bit intimidating at first. Anything new can prove to be. But trust me when I tell you, when you get the hang of this, you won’t get enough.
After all, money trickling into your bank account as you sit in your son’s baseball game is a pretty nice thought.
With that said, making hundreds and thousands of dollars on affiliate marketing isn’t as simple as putting a random affiliate link on your blog and hoping someone happens to click on it.
It takes knowledge and a solid affiliate marketing strategy.
To learn all the strategies that go along with a solid affiliate marketing plan, I wholeheartedly recommend Michelle Schroeder eCourse (Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing).
This is by far one of the best investment you will make if you are looking to make money blogging.
It isn’t only one of the most reputable blogging courses, but it will give you the knowledge and tools to make your money back almost instantly, and then some.
By implementing the affiliate marketing strategies Michelle teaches in this very course is how she made $187,785 in affiliate commission last month alone. Yup! You read that correctly my friend. Almost $200,000 in ONE MONTH!
If you want to know all there is to know about affiliate marketing, Michelle’s course will ensure that you too can reach your financial goals.
Phew! Let’s shake that off. That kind of money is pretty surreal… and pretty intimidating, actually. However, it is also a beautiful reminder of what we can also achieve with the right knowledge, strategies, tools, and determination.
So, if you are new to this affiliate marketing situation, don’t you worry my friend.
I got you!
Today we will cover all of the basic aspects of affiliate marketing. This article will provide you with a straightforward understanding of what affiliate marketing is and what it entails.
We will go over affiliate marketing as a whole in detail so that you leave confident to start making money today.
Note: Before we proceed, if you don’t have a blog and would like to start one, I’ve put together a step-by-step tutorial on “How to Start a Blog in 10 minutes”.
Because choosing a hosting company and registering your domain is only the beginning, I’ve also put together a FREE 7-day email course on “How to Start a Money Making Blog”. This course will walk you through other important aspects of starting a profitable and thriving blog and how to monetize it.
AFFILIATE MARKETING FOR BEGINNERS
*This post contains affiliate links. Click here for more info.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process by which someone earns a commission by selling someone else’s products or services.
You enroll in Amazon’s affiliate program.
You choose an Amazon product you want to promote and sell on your site.
Amazon will provide you with a specific link for that item which you’ll then embed on your post/ website.
Someone then comes along and clicks on your link and purchases the product.
You receive a percentage of that sale (commission).
Pretty straight forward right? That’s affiliate marketing in a nutshell.
Now, let’s talk about everything else that goes along with that.
Affiliate Marketing Programs vs Affiliate Networks
There are two main types of affiliate marketing opportunities.
Affiliate programs are offered by an individual company or product/ service creator. For instance, I have an affiliate program for my Blocabulary Plus eBook which I offer to those who purchase it. In other words, I (individual) offer an affiliate program for my product.
Affiliate networks on the other hand, are third party companies which work with multiple companies who have affiliate programs. That gives publishers (like you and I) the ability to find and join affiliate programs.
Affiliate networks facilitate the process by having thousands of affiliate programs available to join and categorized by niche, interest, and commission.
Here are some of my favorite affiliate programs and networks for bloggers of all niches:
Shareasale is popular affiliate marketing network. You can create a FREE account and join over 4,000 popular companies offering their affiliate programs.
They work with popular brands such as Wayfair, Gymboree, Zulily, Shutterfly, Sears, and much more. Whatever your niche, Shareasale has plenty to choose from, and you don’t pay a penny.
Sign up for Shareasale Affiliate Program here.
Ultimate Bundles is another of my favorite affiliate marketing companies. The Ultimate Bundles Team puts together a HUGE bundle of eBooks and eCourses.
These resources range anywhere from blogging, parenting, health, homemaking, photography, you name it! Then, they sells that bundle at an enormous discount, usually 90-97% off its original price! You will you receive 40% commission for every bundle you sell.
But the bonuses don’t end there. I wrote a full article on Ultimate Bundles you should read if you are interested.
Sign up for the Ultimate Bundles Affiliate Program here.
Viglink is another great option for an affiliate network. Once you put the VigLink tracking ID in your site they automatically identifying commercial products mentioned within your content.
If you visitor clicks ion that link and makes a purchase, VigLink automatically monetizes those terms by transforming them into revenue.
You can also opt out of that automatic linking by simply changing your user settings in your VigLink dashboard. Viglink work with popular companies such as Walmart, Macys, and Bed Bath and Beyond.
Sing up for Viglink’s Affiliate Program here.
Awin is one of the largest affiliate networks in the world (with over 6,000 possible affiliate programs to join. No doubt there is something for every blogger to promote using Awin.
You will be asked to pay $5 for account verification, but the money will be returned to your account balance and will be paid back to you on your first check.
Sing up for Awin’s Affiliate Program here.
How do I find which affiliate programs to join?
Find affiliates that make sense to your brand and your audience.
Make a list of reputable affiliate programs that offer good commission. In addition, make sure that you know the product or service well enough before you recommend it to your readers.
You can start by making a list of the products and services you already use. Usually these will have affiliate programs you can join. Examples include; your hosting provider, your email marketing company, your social media scheduler, and so on.
If you would like to become an affiliate for a particular product or service, you would need to sign up for their affiliate program.
You can typically find an “affiliates” or “partner with us” section in the company’s home page top menu or footer.
Another great way to find affiliate programs to join is to recommend learning products you have found useful. I explain a little bit more about this in my A.CT. Method.
Recommending learning material can apply to any blogging niche. For instance, if you are a mom blogger and you found a breastfeeding book or course to be helpful, you can recommend that. If you are in the crafting niche and you know of a course that is amazing at teaching you how to crochet then you can recommend that.
Here’s why I think that recommending learning products is extremely rewarding. Let me show you some numbers to put it all in perspective:
I currently sell my Blogcabulary Plus: The Ultimate Blogging Terminology, Reference, and Resource Book for $34 at regular pricing.
Those who purchase my 200+ page book are granted access to sign up to my affiliate program. Once they do they will earn a 40% commission for every book they sell though their affiliate link.
That means that with a $34 book price and a 40% commission payout they will earn $13.60 for every sale. In which case, they will almost receive their investment back by selling just 2 books. After that, it will be straight profit.
But here is the most important part of it all. They practically just got paid to learn and to help others do the same!
They purchased (invested in) a book that saved them weeks even month of blogging research and overwhelm. Then, they were able to recommend the book to other bloggers who could greatly benefit from it.
So not only did they learn information to improve their blogging skills, but now they get to help others and get paid in the process. That’s a win-win if you ask me!
How to find affiliate links?
Once you sign up for the affiliate program, you will be given a unique affiliate link or affiliate code. You can find your affiliate link in your affiliate portal.
There should be a section titled “links” or “affiliate links” where you would be able to copy your unique link. Your affiliate link will be unique to you.
Once you share it with your audience it will be able to track your stats and your sales.
Where to promote affiliate links?
You can promote your affiliate links every time you mention that product or service on your blog, social media, or email newsletters.
It seems simple enough to just copy and paste a link on your social media handles. But the truth is, as we mentioned before it takes a little bit more strategy than that.
Here are 12 ways you can promote your you affiliate links effectively.
How do affiliate marketing payments work?
Your commission is typically based on a percentage of the product’s value or a fixed amount.
Some affiliate programs require that you first purchase their product. Usually that applies to learning products like eBooks and eCourses.
Other companies don’t require product/ service purchase in order to sign up for their affiliate program. All you got to do is ask.
Most affiliate programs will issue payments through PayPal. You can create a free PayPal business account and all of your earning will go straight there.
Then, you can make transfers from your PayPal to your personal/ business account or request for a check to be issued to you. PayPal fees may apply for transfers.
Other affiliate programs have other payment options such as check payments and other gateways.
Don’t expect to receive your commission earning right away. You can expect to receive your earnings within 1-2 months after a particular sale. This happens as a result of an intentional payment delay set by the affiliate program owner.
The payment delay is set in place in case that the buyer returns the product/ service and is issued a refund.
In which case you will not receive a commission and the affiliate program will save them the hassle of losing money if they already paid you in advance for that commission.
How many affiliate program/affiliate networks should you join?
I’ve encountered this questions a few times by my readers and the truth is there isn’t a magic number.
I recommend you join as many affiliate programs as you can within you niche. That is the only way to know which of those programs resonates better with your audience.
Once you have a better understanding of which affiliates make you the most profit, then you can put more effort into promoting those.
Affiliate Marketing Disclosures
As per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you must make sure you disclose your affiliation to any company and/or product clearly and visibly whenever using such links.
As the FTC explains, “The FTC has enforced and will continue enforcing its consumer protection laws to ensure that products and services are described truthfully online, and that consumers understand what they are paying for. These activities benefit consumers as well as sellers, who expect and deserve the opportunity to compete in a marketplace free of deception and unfair practices.”
Because your blog is now open to the public, you MUST protect yourself from a legal standpoint. Specially now with the new GDPR regulations.
Ensuring you have legal policies and agreements in place will give you a peace of mind by protecting you from possible lawsuits (sadly, in today’s world, that is something we all have to prepare ourselves for).
In addition to your website, affiliate and sponsor disclosures also apply to social media.
It is important to disclose your affiliation to any promotional content by including it in the caption, description, comments, etc. You will find some bloggers write them as #ad, #sponsored, and #afflink. You could also write a full disclosure.
If choosing to go with Amazon affiliates, make sure you read their rules and regulation for disclosures. They have quite a few.
Affiliate Marketing and Taxes
Disclosure: I am not a professional accountant. The recommendations below are strictly from personal experience and to the best of my knowledge. I am not responsible for how you use, interpret, or apply this information. For more information on how you should include your affiliate earning in your taxes, please contact your CPA.
This was the first year that I declared income for my blog and needless to say, I learned quite a lot of interesting information.
Here’s what you should know:
Most affiliate programs will provide you with a tax report each tax year which you can take to your accountant. Despite of that, you should keep track of all of your blog’s earning and expenses on your own.
The minute you start earning money from your blog, that is money you have to report to the IRS (if you live in the U.S).
The taxes you have to pay will be roughly 30% of your earnings. So make sure you have a plan in place to save some money for taxes. You don’t want to be stuck paying out-of-pocket come tax season.
Most bloggers pay for their taxes quarterly (4 times a year).
My CPA suggested I signed up for a free IRS account. Like a savings account if you will. They allow you to put money away all year-long so that when tax season comes around you don’t have to worry about coming up with the money.
Say I made a gross profit of $2,000 for the month of January.
When I do my financial analysis of my blog’s financial performance in early February (income and expenses), I will transfer $600 (30%) to my IRS account.
You can choose to make these IRS transfers weekly, monthly, quarterly, up to you. The point is that you are not spending ALL of the money, because Uncle Sam will be sure to collect his portion come tax season whether you have or it not.
Now, come tax time, because you have been putting a healthy amount of money away, you won’t have to worry about paying a big lump sum of money.
What’s more, by doing it this way it is likely that you will even get a tax refund!
Yes my friend, you heard that correctly and here is why:
- You put away a bit more than required just to be on the safe side.
- They haven’t yet factored in all of your blogging/ business expense (which can be quite a lot, trust me).
Once those things are factored in, the IRS might just send you a nice little check in return.
Bottom line… It might be a bit of a sacrifice to cut your monthly earnings by putting away for taxes. But fact of the matter is that come tax season I rather get $3,500 back than to have to pay $7,200 (hypothetically speaking). Just saying.
Important things to remember about affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is an art. An acquired talent.
It takes time to get to know your audience, their likes, and their interest. It takes time to see what strategies work best for you and which don’t.
It also takes a lot of planning, being creative, and implementing purposeful plans of action to be successful.
Remember, that’s where Michelle’s course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing comes in. I urge you to seriously consider it. This course will change your blogging income in ways you don’t even imagine.
Another great resource is Carly’s eCourse Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers: Everything You Are Missing.
I love the use of videos and learning material in Carly’s course as well as the affordable pricing.
The main difference in Carly’s Course is that she teaches mostly strategy, which I love. No fluff, straight to the point actionable strategies with video and picture examples. She even includes an email series which is incredibly valuable to get you going with email marketing.
So in summary, if you are brand spanking new to affiliate marketing and want to learn it all from the very beginning, Michelle’s course is for you.
If you know the basics of affiliate marketing and you are looking for a strategy packed resource from beginning to end, the Carly’s Course is what you need.
Most importantly, it is imperative that you know the product or service you are recommending very well. You don’t want to recommend a product or service that you don’t know firsthand.
Always keep in mind that people will follow your recommendations and trust your judgment. Don’t take that for granted! Be honest and upfront at all times.
In addition, affiliate marketing goes hand in hand with email marketing so make sure you also give this a read.
I hope this was helpful to you and that this information gives you a head start on a successful and profitable blogging journey.
Did you find this affiliate marketing guide for beginners helpful?
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Hi Nataly. Thank you so much for providing this valuable information. I really found it great. One thing i want to ask is; suppose i want to start affiliate marketing to make money but don’t have any idea to start anything. Share me any suggestion please!
Hi Amit, I would suggest finding a niche you have knowledge about and that allows you to provide valuable and helpful information to others. Once you have found what that niche is for you, then find products and companies you can promote based on your choice. Good luck!
Love the amazing guide, keep up the good work.
Thank you Louis!
Thanks for sharing the informative post about affiliate marketing for beginners. Yes, we know that affiliate marketing is not easy but with your amazing post, it is easier.
Thank you so much Rewani! Very glad to hear this was helpful to you. ❤️
Hi Nataly, such an amazing ideas to start a blog on different niches. Really an useful post with clean and clear details. Thanks for sharing this post. Keep sharing.
Thank you Smith… As always I hope this was helpful to you.
Enjoyed reading your post, although I have a doubt, can you please tell me how can i get visitors on my blog. Its been 2 years and I have been struggling hard to get visitors…
The biggest sources of traffic for most blogger including myself are Pinterest and Google (SEO). Focusing all of your attention on those two sources alone can increase your traffic drastically.
A great resource that encompasses both of those aspects (Pinterest and SEO) is Elna Cain’s Course Ready Set Blog Traffic.
Good luck to you.
very nice article with unique style about affiliate marketing
Thank you Sameh.
Thank you Cindy. Let me know if you have any questions once you get going.
All very wonderful tips, especially the taxes part!! I’m definitely doing this, but not 30%, I do 20% mostly because I don’t need the IRS making interest off my money, especially if I’m getting a refund!
Haha! Thanks Kirsten.
Totally up to you. It could even be a personal savings account if you are disciplined enough not to touch it year-round. Lol
This is so helpful! I have been looking for tips on this.
Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Mel. Glad you found this helpful.
This is great. I’m new to blogging and the affiliate stuff has got me crazy confused. Can’t wait to come back to this and dig in.
Glad you found this helpful Cindy.