One thing not many people know about me is that I own and maintain several niche blogs which I use to earn an affiliate income.
The niches are very defined and a couple of them don’t have much in the way of competition. To me, these nichey money makers can be more lucrative than throwing up some banner ads. (Actually – it depends on the niche, the blog your reading now actually earns better with banners than it does with affiliates). If you discover a topic area that lends itself well to selling products, it’s definitely worth considering becoming an affiliate.
I’m not an expert in affiliate marketing by any stretch of the imagination, but I over the years I’ve learned that selling as an affiliate really isn’t about sales. It’s more about subtle product placement and, again, having a niche that lends itself well to certain products. Here’s are a few tips I learned over the years that helped me with affiliate sales over the past few years.
The nichier the better:
The more defined your niche is, the better. If it’s a niche people are interested in learning more about it will lend itself well to books, products (especially those that help learn more about that niche), and other items. For example, a blog or website based on a historical figure would do well in selling related books and memorabilia, while a blog focusing on, say, accessories, provides a variety of opportunities for product placement. However if you have a blog devoted simply to “stuff” and it becomes a mishmash of products and ideas, it will turn people off. Look at it this way, people are eager to learn – give them a go-to resource, preferably in a topic not many people are talking about.
Don’t push the sale
I find I sell more when I don’t talk about selling. Instead of pushing sales, I work products or services into my content with relevant links. For example, if I’m talking about, oh I don’t know, trees, I can link to a place to buy trees online or books about trees. I’m not telling people to buy trees or books about trees from me. However, because I have links to tree things subtly placed throughout my content, readers are inclined to want to learn more. (As an example, I’ve done so in this post – in both subtle and not so subtle ways.)
You need traffic and community
Don’t even think about selling if no one is coming to your blogs or websites. Grow your traffic first and establish your expertise. Your online community should trust you to share in a responsible manner. Once you have that going, and you know something about your readers and online community, that’s when you can start to think about using affiliate links.
Mix and match
I like to try different affiliate products and services. Of course, if one is steadily making money I’ll keep it going. However, there’s no shame in experimenting with different affiliate streams. For one blog I only use one affiliate because it does well where others don’t. For a couple of other blogs, I use a variety of affiliates. Play around a bit and see what works.
Disclose, disclose, disclose
I have a disclaimer in the sidebar of every blog that uses affiliate links so there is no mistake about what happens when you click on one of those links. I will also put a smaller disclaimer at the bottom of each post that uses affiliate links. Not only does this show your readers that you’re honest and not trying to pull a fast one, but it means you’re in compliance with FTC regulations – and that’s important.
Use evergreen content
Of course you want to use a variety of content. For example, news related to your niche and informational posts about your topic. One thing you want to be sure of is that you have plenty of “evergreen” or timeless content on your blog.
Stay on topic
Don’t stray too far from the niche. When you confuse your readers just to make a sale, it will drive them away.
You won’t have sales overnight
Don’t fret over slow sales at first. It takes time to grow a blog. It takes even more time for a steady income stream to take place. My first blog only started earning after a year or so of steady blogging, and it wasn’t very much money. It wasn’t until a few years had gone by that I begin to earn a more lucrative income.
Share products and services you know or would buy yourself. Avoid scammy, spammy affiliates or anything that will cause your readers and online community to think twice about working with you. It’s better to build up a solid community of advocates than it is to drive sale that may cause people to lose faith in you.
Keep adding content in order to keep bringing people back. If you’re not blogging on a regular basis, people will stop looking for your posts. (This blog is proof of that.)
Those are my top tips for using affiliate links in your blog posts. Mind you, I’m not earning millions. I can’t retire any time soon – but that doesn’t mean it might not happen one day. For now, I’m happy to supplement my regular income with some affiliate income. If you decide to give it ago, let me know how it works out for you.
If you already use affiliates in your blogs, share some of your top tips.