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How to make money with affiliate links

by admin on September 22, 2011

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 6 seconds

You might have heard of affiliate marketing. If not, or even if so, it’s just a fancy-pants term for making money with affiliate links to other people’s (or companies) products.

Affiliate income is excellent because it basically means money for nothing every month. It’s doubly valuable is if it’s part of a multi-pronged strategy to derive income from different streams from the same, or even from multiple, sites.

Before you go madly linking to other products, there’s a few things to consider

  • What to promote
  • How to promote
  • What you’ll need
  • What to be aware of

A website with traffic

You might think you need a website with thousands and thousands of visitors to be successful at affiliate marketing. This isn’t really true.

VeloNomad does about 4000 visitors a month (many times that amount during Tour de France time) which isn’t huge, and generates about 10c per visitor, so it’s not too bad.

You’ll have to build organic traffic to your site over time. In order to convert well, you’ll need to be seen as credible and “useful” (see the next section).

I’m not saying a pure affiliate marketing site that basically links out to products from every page, won’t be successful. Rather, it’ll be competing with many other sites doing exactly the same thing. Much better to rely on sustainable traffic from loyal visitors (like I do with VeloNomad).

What to promote

There’s a big difference between subtly linking to, or promoting, products you genuinely respect and maybe even use yourself, and just spamming your readers with endless promotion. Balance is needed.

I highly recommend only promoting products and services you use yourself. This will lend an air of credibility to your reviews and promotions.

If your website exists for the sole purpose of affiliate marketing, basically every post will be promoting. At least for me, I like to mix purely promotional posts (product reviews) with informational (no selling) posts.

What you’ll need

For your website I absolutely recommend using MaxBlogPress’s Ninja Affiliate plugin. I use this plugin on this site and on VeloNomad.com

I also highly recommend building your site on Thesis, though that’s a topic for another post entirely.

You should have a PayPal account too, although some schemes will pay by international bank transfer (Wiggle and ChainReactionCycles use Affiliate Window who make payments via bank transfer).

Ejunkie, which is what I use for my affiliate scheme on VeloNomad, facilitates payments via PayPal.

How to promote

On the site that generates the bulk of my affiliate income, VeloNomad.com, I promote products and use affiliate marketing, using the framework below. Go check out VeloNomad, it gives you some good starting points.

The homepage has some banners and this page is a landing page for all the product reviews. This EVOC Bike Bag review gets about 10% of the site traffic and converts very well (and generates about AUD$400/month in income). There’s also a specific product review page.

  • Only promote products and services I use myself
  • The bulk of links are for products I have reviewed
  • Have a review page linking out to each product
  • Banners in the sidebars
  • No banners in mailing list mail outs – mailing list subscribers are gold, so I want to minimise the affiliate marketing to them (links in posts are ok)

Disclosing affiliate links

I am a big fan of transparency and disclosure. For a fun take on disclosure, check out John Chow’s site.

I think that you should be completely transparent and not hide anything – this will add to the perceived credibility. You could even put all the companies you promote and their commission rate on a special page.

* These are affiliate links and I generate a commission on any sales.

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