Alright, so I recently shared my first blog income report, if you haven’t checked it out just click here to read it. But to make a long story short, I shared how I was able to make over $500 dollars in April & May with a brand new blog and a super small audience.
My blog was only a couple of weeks old when I made my first $50.
You see, I was taught how to utilize affiliate marketing correctly, and that is why $470 of that blog income came from affiliate links.
There are certain income streams you simply cannot have success with as a brand new blogger (in my opinion). For example, launching digital products or courses. The reason I believe you won’t be successful with those options in the very beginning, is because you really need that traffic & trusting community / email list to launch your course or product and have success. Now, I am not saying it is impossible, but in most cases, you would want to build your traffic and email list first before tackling that form of income stream.
BUT, with affiliate marketing, you can literally start incorporating it into your blog posts from day one. Then, as your blog grows, so does your blog income, because those links are already strategically placed throughout your blog.
Now, what I will say is this: Affiliate marketing is NOT as simple as throwing a few links on your blog. It is a strategic process that you really have to plan and work at (initially). Eventually it can become a more passive type of income, but in the beginning you need to create those core affiliate blog posts to get the ball rolling.
Surprised? Don’t worry, I initially thought affiliate marketing was all about slapping links on my blog, and just hoping for the best.
So, what changed my mind and opened my eyes? Honestly, I took Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. It showed me everything I was doing wrong, and everything I needed to be doing instead if I wanted to see success.
*Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure page.
So, today I want to share with you what I learned from the course, why I decided to invest, and why I recommend it to every blogger I talk to now. I am also going to cover:
- What affiliate marketing is
- A little bit of info about Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and her success
- How you can make money with Affiliate Marketing from day 1.
- How to find and choose affiliate programs that work for your niche
- How you strategically use affiliate marketing
Now, if you don’t already know what affiliate marketing is, no worries, that is why I wrote this post!
So first, let me do a quick summary. Basically, when you partner as an affiliate with a company, product or service, you receive a link that is unique to you. You can then add that link throughout your blog, in your email newsletters, on social media, etc. Now, when someone clicks that link and makes a purchase, you receive a small commission from that sale. That is the basics of affiliate marketing.
One big aspect of affiliate marketing is to disclosure to your readers that you are using affiliate links, which is one of the first things Michelle actually teaches in the course. FTC regulations do require you to let people know if you are receiving anything for recommending a product or service. I have a full disclosure page that I link to in any post that contains affiliate links, and at the beginning of the post I simply include “this post contains affiliate links, for more information you can read my disclosure page.”
Being transparent with your audience is important, so this shouldn’t be viewed as a negative.
Okay, so now that you know the basics, let’s jump into the good stuff!
THE POSITIVES OF AFFILIATE MARKETING
First, I want to address a few points on WHY affiliate marketing is a great income strategy for your blog:
- Affiliate marketing is an inexpensive way to start earning money from your blog. It usually involves simply applying to an affiliate program, free of charge!
- You can create just one blog post, and that one post has the potential to earn you money for years! You just have to maintain it and keep driving traffic to it!
- You can earn an income by doing what you already do by simply promoting products that you already use and love.
- Most importantly, you are providing your readers with more value by helping them find quality products that they will love and find useful.
Those are just a few of the reasons it is a great place to start when monetizing your blog!
THE POTENTIAL ….
So kendraBLOGS is fairly new, but I was able to earn over $500 dollars in my first two months with a brand new blog & a small audience. $469 of that income came from affiliate links. Now, that may not be a huge amount or a super inspirational number, but it does show me (and hopefully you) that affiliate marketing has potential to help you make money with your blog from the start!
If my story doesn’t give you the push to start affiliate marketing, I bet Michelle’s will.
So, I before I jump into more about affiliate marketing and what I have actually learned from Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, I wanted to talk a little bit about Michelle, the creator of the course. I reason I wanted to do this is because I want you to see the potential that affiliate marketing truly has.
Michelle makes over $50,000 in affiliate income PER MONTH! …. . No, that wasn’t a typo. So, it is safe to say she is qualified to teach a course about affiliate marketing! Am I Right?
Michelle is a young adult who started a personal finance blog to help with her own financial situation, and was actually able to pay off $38,000 dollar in debt through her blogging success in just 7 months!
Want to earn an income online with affiliate marketing, but don’t have a blog yet? No problem! Check out my Step by Step Tutorial on Starting and Monetizing Your Blog
WHY USING AFFILIATE MARKETING FROM DAY ONE IS SO IMPORTANT
Now, I often recommend to my readers that they should use affiliate marketing from day one, but obviously if you already started your blog, it is never too late to start.
This is not always the opinion you may find, many bloggers recommend waiting until your blog is bigger to start using affiliate links, but I am going to explain why I disagree.
First of all, if you love a product or service, there is absolutely nothing wrong with promoting it to your readers. Especially if you believe that product of service will benefit them or provide them value! It is only when you start promoting everything under the sun to try to make a quick buck, that it becomes a bit shady and annoying.
You only want to promote products/services that you yourself have tried and loved. OR if you have not tried it, make sure you just disclose that information.
But, here are my thoughts. Lets look at a hypothetical situation:
You decide to wait to start using affiliate marketing until you have a larger audience, and more blog posts. But, to your surprise one of your blog posts quickly takes off and goes viral on Pinterest. The problem is, you didn’t include any affiliate links in that post because you wanted to wait until you had more traffic. There were actually quite a few relevant and potential areas throughout the post where links could have been placed, but you figured you would do that later on once you had grown your blog.
So now, thousands of people have clicked on and read that post, and that is thousands of potential commissions that you lost because you were not prepared, and decided not to utilize affiliate marketing right away.
See my point here?
But again, I will reiterate that you don’t want to just slap some random links in there and hope for the best. Take the time and be strategic. I’ll get into that next more below!
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING
So, this all sounds great, and your ready to jump on the affiliate marketing train, but you have no idea where to start or how to find affiliates that are relevant to your niche.
No problem, I felt the same way initially. I get it!
Of course, I obviously recommend Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing because it truly walks you through EVERYTHING you need to know to have success with affiliate marketing, but another reason it is so great is because Michelle also includes a huge list of affiliate programs broken down into different niches. You simply find your niche, and choose the affiliate programs you want to apply to.
One thing I will say is that your content trumps everything else. So, what I mean by that is, you should focus on writing high quality content first and foremost, and then add in affiliate links where applicable. You don’t want your affiliate links to be forced. They should always flow easily within your blog post, giving it more value rather than taking it away. Your links should actually be providing your reader additional value above in beyond what is offered in your blog post, that way they want to click, and when they do, are finding relevant and helpful value that compliments your blog post in a positive way.
So, while Michelle’s list is an awesome resource, I obviously understand not everyone can dish out the money for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing as a new blogger. And while I can’t steal her list of affiliate programs to share with you, I can let you know what a few of my favorite programs are that I currently work with.
Affiliate Networks and Programs That I Use Personally:
- Amazon Associates: The Amazon affiliate program. Yup, you can grab an affiliate link for any product on Amazon and earn a commission when someone clicks it and makes a purchase. While the commission percentage isn’t huge, if you write product round ups on your blog, this is the affiliate program for you!
- ShareASale: ShareASale is actually a network of affiliate programs, which is why I love it. You simply sign up, and once you have an account, you can apply to any affiliate program that is relevant to your niche! Some great affiliates that work with ShareASale are Wayfair, FreshBooks, TailWind, docAtot, Ergo Baby, and so much more. Click here to sign up!
- Siteground: Siteground is the hosting platform I use for my blog. I love them and recommend them often, and I make sure I use an affiliate link when I do. Siteground actually offers $50 per referral, which is awesome! If you have a self hosted blog, your hosting provider most likely has an affiliate program. If you do not have a self-hosted blog, you are going to want to set one up ASAP! You can read why you need one right here. OR you can set yours up in this super easy tutorial.
- ConvertKit: I Use Convertkit for my email marketing platform. Convertkit is made with bloggers in mind, so they have amazing features, and are super easy to recommend to others. The best part is, they have a recurring commission structure. If someone signs up, you get a commission for every month they stay signed up with ConverKit. If you don’t have your email marketing set up, I recommend you do that ASAP! You email list is another great way to promote affiliate links! You can check out this post to get started with email marketing & building your list: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Start & Grow Your Email List
- Pinteresting Strategies: This is an ebook I purchased by Carly from Mommy on Purpose. She grew her traffic to over 400k per month by using Pinterest, and she shares all her tips in the ebook. It was a super beneficial resource, and it has helped me quite a bit with my own Pinterest Strategy. Not to mention the super reasonable price tag! I found out afterward that Carly actually had an affiliate program for the ebook, and I signed up right away because I loved the product. So now I promote Pinteresting Strategies to anyone looking for a great Pinterest resource, which I would have done anyway, but now I receive a commission if they decide to purchase it! You can check out Pinteresting Strategies by Clicking Here.
So, those are some of my favorites! A great tip to remember is that if you ever purchase a course or e-book and you really love it, ask if they have an affiliate program! A lot of the time they do. If it is something that works well for your niche, then promote it to your audience.
Once you find some of your own favorite affiliate programs that are relevant and helpful to your niche, you need to create a strategy. One thing I learned in Michelle’s course, and it is one of the things that really stuck with me, was how many different ways you can promote your affiliate links other than just sticking them in a blog post.
HOW AND WHERE TO PROMOTE AFFILIATE LINKS
So like I have mentioned, affiliate marketing is not as easy as slapping some links on your blog posts and calling it a day. Well, not if you want to actually make any money from them!
Honestly, until I took Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, that is exactly what I was doing. And, sure I was making the odd commission here and there. But they were usually months apart, and I was hardly ever hitting the minimum thresholds to actually get paid out! It was extremely frustrating.
Then Michelle really opened my eyes and made me see what I was doing wrong. So I changed my approach, and I am already seeing the results within weeks of implementing some of her strategies.
So, While including links in your blog posts is a great way to start, it isn’t the only thing you should be doing.
I can’t go as in-depth as Michelle does in her course (this blog post will just become a book if I do), but I am going to quickly summarize a few different strategies that you should be focusing on when getting started with affiliate marketing:
Now, a lot of the time you can actually just include or mention an affiliate product in your blog post. BUT, this is not to be confused with just slapping random affiliate links in your blog posts and thinking you’re done. Because as I have mentioned before, that it not how you do it!
You always want the affiliates that are included in your blog post to be relevant, helpful and to provide additional value to your reader and compliment the topic of your post.
An affiliate link within your blog post should always compliment a post, not take away from it.
The reader is there because they are interested in the content of your blog post, so, if you include affiliate links that are directly related and relevant to your content, then your reader is obviously more likely to click that link.
The keys to remember are that the links in your post should always be relevant and helpful. Never random or unrelated.
Doing a product review of an affiliate product on your website is a great way to promote a product to your followers, and a great way to earn affiliate income as well.
The key with using reviews as an affiliate strategy, is that they should be authentic, personable, and not just be an advertisement for the product. The product you are reviewing should be relevant to your blog niche and solve a problem or provide some sort of value to your readers.
If you are an affiliate for a product or service that people need to learn how to use or set-up, creating a tutorial may be a great option to promote that affiliate product to your readers, while also providing a ton of value.
Tutorials are also a great option because someone is more likely to actually click on your affiliate link and buy if they first understand how to use the product.
I have a few tutorial type posts on my blog that promote affiliate links if you want examples:
You may have heard the term “the money is in the list”, and that is definitely true!
Think of it this way, your email subscribers sign up to your list to specifically to hear what YOU have to say. Then, when you nurture that list, and build that relationship, they start to really trust in your opinion and recommendations. So, when you love a product and believe it will be beneficial to your audience, sending out an email about it is a great way to provide value and earn some affiliate income in the process.
So, if you haven’t started building your email list yet, I highly recommend you do that ASAP!
I recommend signing up for Convertkit (You can even try it for 14 days before making a commitment by clicking here). Their email service were made with bloggers in mind and they provide a ton of amazing features to help you grow you list. I also have a tutorial for getting started with ConvertKit you can check out by Clicking Here.
One thing I will mention is that you shouldn’t be constantly sending out affiliate offers through your email list. Make sure you are sending other high value emails as well, and not always pushing affiliate links in every single email that you send.
A few other methods that Michelle talks about in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing are using affiliates on Social Media and Pinterest. I am not going to touch on these because I just do not have the experience in that area (yet). But, if you are interested in learning more on this, Michelle talks in-depth about the 4 mentioned methods above + social media and Pinterest in the course.
If you are interested in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, click here to see the details of everything that is included!
WHY YOU SHOULD INVEST IN THE COURSE
So, I just provided you with lots of valuable information to get started with affiliate marketing, so why even pay for a course?
Well my friend, while I am starting to have success with affiliate marketing, I am not at all an expert in the topic. And, everything I have learned that has brought me success so far, I have learned from investing in my blog by taking this course.
You see, for TWO YEARS, I played around with affiliate marketing. With my first blog, I did the research, I read the articles, and I tried to figure affiliate marketing out all on my own. I mean what is so hard about adding some links to your blog right?
Wrong. There is so much more that goes into actually having affiliate marketing success.
When I started KendraBlogs, I decided enough is enough, it was time to invest in myself and my success. What I really needed was a complete guide to affiliate marketing, and that is how I found Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Well, I purchased the course, and within my first month of implementing Michelle’s strategies, I had made back what I had originally invested in the course. Then, in my first two months I doubled that and then some.
You see, Michelle covers EVERYTHING you need to know to have success. She covers:
- What affiliate marketing is and how it works
- Why affiliate marketing is such a great option for making money with your blog
- The exact steps she’s taken to earn over $300,000 from a single blog post
- How to pick the right affiliate products to promote
- How to increase your conversions
- How to build trust with your audience
- Required disclosures that you need to know about
- The one major tool you need for affiliate marketing
- Different strategies to use to promote your affiliate products
- How to use Pinterest to succeed at affiliate marketing
PLUS when you purchase the course, you get all 6 modules, over 30 lessons, over 20 awesome worksheets, AND extremely helpful exclusive Facebook group.
Seriously the FB group is awesome, I have learned so much about blogging in general from that group.
WHY I FINALLY DECIDED TO INVEST IN A COURSE
In March, right after I started kendraBLOGS, I decided to dig (deep) into my pockets and invest in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. The reason I took the plunge was because I decided it was time to take my blog seriously.
If you don’t know my story, I had been blogging for about two years before starting this blog. In that time, I was able to bring in a bit of blog income, but it was definitely more of a side income, and never very consistent.
In that two-year period, I also had my daughter Mia. She is now my motivation to take my blog seriously and turn that side income into a full-time income so that I can stay home with here everyday, and never miss a moment of her little life.
So, I invested in my future and myself. And I do not regret it for a second.
Now, this is not a magical solution to your blogging problems. You need to spend the time and implement the steps and processes to see the results. If you do that, you will make back your investment in no time and then it’s all profit after that!
Many bloggers make little to no money from affiliate marketing. But, Michelle, on the other hand, is seriously killin’ it. Like literally thousands and thousands of dollars MONTHLY.
That’s who we want to learn from, am I right?!
So, if you are also ready to take your blog seriously and you think this is something that would benefit your blogs future, click here to find out more about Michelle’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course!
MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS
So, to finish up this post, I am going to summarize what my biggest takeaways were from the course and the reasons why I believe it was so worth the investment. There is a lot, but I am going to try to break it down for you:
Anyone can use affiliate marketing
It was this course that gave me to confidence to start monetizing my blog from the very beginning! Michelle made me realize that there is no reason to wait until you have thousands of followers or page visits. Even if you have a small audience and a brand-new blog, you can still be successful at affiliate marketing. Michelle even shows you which affiliate programs’ website are best for new bloggers!
There is Strategy Behind the Success
I know I sound like a broken record, but slapping random links on your blog will not bring you the results you’re looking for. There is strategy to having success. One take away from the course was to start with just a few affiliate programs and really focus your attention on them instead of applying for every program under the sun and spamming your blog with a million different links.
You can play around with different promotion strategies for your “focus” affiliates, figuring what works best, and tweaking them as needed. Once you master those affiliates, you can move on and focus on a new one.
You also always want to let your content and your audience dictate your affiliate programs. Don’t just spam your posts with random and irrelevant products! Focus first and foremost on creating content that your readers really love and value, and then figure out which affiliate programs would work well with that content!
Setting Goals and Staying Organized is Important
The Worksheets in the course were super helpful to me and figuring out what would work best for me and my audience. I also realized through Michelle, that having planners and some sort of tracking system such as a spreadsheet to track your numbers and goals will help you stay motivated and accountable, not to mention organized! Setting clear and attainable goals is so helpful in your success!
All it takes is one GREAT post
Okay,so one of my favorite parts of the course is when Michelle breaks down exactly how she earned six figures from one single blog post! She walks through all of the strategies she used, including interlinking, cross posting, email sequences, interviews, social media, and more.
All it really takes is ONE post with affiliate links to go viral for you to make money from your blog! How amazing is that?!
Michelle’s course really is a great step-by-step affiliate marketing course for beginners.
I can’t wait to share more of my own successes with affiliate marketing over the next few months.
But in the mean time, If you’re ready to create your own successes with affiliate marketing, then here are the course details one last time:
Now, I want to hear from you! In what ways do you currently use affiliate marketing on your blog? Do you have a strategy? Is it working? How would you like to improve?
If you do or did take Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, how did it go? Did you see results?
Let me know in the comments below!