(Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. And yes, that’s a random picture of me painting a tea pot)!

So… you’ve got a website…right? Great!

Through the use of affiliate marketing, you have the ability to easily monetize your site. Now that you’ve gotten started with building your audience through social media and email marketing, you can utilize this audience to help bring in some passive income with no extra charge to your readers, and no extra work from you.

Building the audience is the hard part!

Once you’re well on your way to a growing list of fans and followers, the affiliate programs just make sense to add on next. The two programs that I am actively using are Amazon and BlueHost. As of yesterday, I also added Corbett Barr‘s “How to Start a Blog that Matters” because he runs a site that I learn a lot from when it comes to marketing my business, myself, and how to run this blog!

How does it work?

It’s basically like working on commission. But, you’re not really “working.” That’s the beauty of it! You’ve got a website/blog, you’ve got an audience, and now you’re including links to products that your followers would find useful, but you’re getting a commission from that sale. Your customers don’t pay anything extra, so it really makes no difference to them whether they buy it through a link found on your site, or through the original site itself. But by clicking through to a product from your site, with your tracking code link, you get a small percentage of that sale.

For example, in my resources page, I include links to several Amazon products (Kindle, external hard drive, and what I’m currently reading). When someone clicks on those links, it takes them directly to the Amazon page where they can choose to purchase it, or continue browsing. And here’s an added bonus: whether they choose to buy that product or not, if they keep browsing on Amazon, you’ll still get credit for whatever they end up actually purchasing.

I know someone who had a link to a random book on Amazon, and ended up with hundreds of dollars added to his account because that same person who clicked through to the book ended up buying a full backyard GRILL! The website didn’t link specifically to the grill, and it didn’t advertise that it was an affiliate link for that grill. Yet, that site got the commission simply for referring a customer to Amazon in the first place. #Winning

So just by including affiliate links in your articles about things you would already be writing about in the first place, you have the ability to bring in some extra income. There are people out there who do this full-time for a living! Take a look at Smart Passive Income, a site about how one guy makes a living through passive income online. He writes about what he’s learned, and how you can do it, too.

Getting Started 

If you don’t have an audience already, that’s fine. You can work on finding your target audience at the same time as learning about your affiliate marketing opportunities. It won’t pay off right away, that’s for sure, until you’ve got an audience willing to listen and care about what you have to say along with your recommendations. So first things first, begin building an audience through providing useful and important information geared toward a niche group of people you’d like to work with.

If you’ve already got a pretty decent sized audience, and you already know the type of content that they are interested in, then you’re ready to start utilizing affiliate marketing tactics!

There are tons and tons of affiliate programs out there, and I could certainly be utilizing more of them through my own site, but I choose to stick with Amazon and BlueHost because those are currently the most relevant to my audience and my business. Your needs may be different, so do some research on what types of companies offer affiliate programs that you may be able to utilize for your readers. You’d be surprised what you may find! Bloggers like Chris Guillebeau offer an affiliate program for selling his services, REI offers an affiliate program for its online store, and there are many, many more. All of these services generally require that you are approved as a registered affiliate before you can begin earning income, but it usually takes just a few days before you have your “yay” or “nay” response.

Amazon

To learn more about the Amazon affiliate program and to get started, click here. It will ask you to sign up and say if you’re a returning customer or a new customer. Go through the steps, and complete the application.

Once you’re approved, when you go to Amazon’s homepage from now on, you’ll see a banner across the top of your page that links to your affiliate account. It will look like this:

Whenever you’re ready to link to a particular item, you will need to click the button the top that says “Link to this page” in your new affiliate banner.

You’ll be given a few options for how to proceed. You can either link into text only (like most of my affiliate links), or you can include an image with the product so that whenever someone clicks on the image, it redirects him or her to the Amazon page to make a final purchase.

Then, like any other regular hyperlink, you can include your affiliate link into your posts, and when someone clicks it (and makes a purchase), you’ll get the commission. Boom. Amazon starts you out at a super low rate (4% ish), but the more you sell, the more your rate will increase.

BlueHost

This is my favorite affiliate link so far! I write a lot about developing your online presence and making sure that you’ve got a website ready to present to the world. If you don’t have one, you can click my BlueHost link and purchase your domain name and a hosting service through them. They offer a simple WordPress install, as well as e-commerce installs, which make it one of the most user-friendly services around! I recently just installed ShopSite through BlueHost to help me with creating my “store” of services and packages, which you can see here!

Each time someone creates a website through my affiliate link, I earn $65.00. It’s a flat rate, it’s sweet and simple, it’s no extra charge to the person creating a website, and it’s just an awesome referral from you!

Tips for doing it right

As with most things, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t link to random stuff that your readers would generally have no interest in whatsoever just because you hope to make an extra buck. It’s not gonna happen. If it’s not something you would naturally click on, then don’t entice your readers to do it either. You’ll lose respect and credibility by randomly linking to irrelevant content, so don’t let that happen to you!
  2. Avoid making hard sells by sounding too spammy. You know what this means. If you go to a website and feel like all they want to do is steal your money, you peace out, right? Don’t be that person! Be honest and genuine, and only promote a product if you know that it could be beneficial to your audience.
  3. Always disclose that you’re using affiliate links (like I did at the top of this post… because this sucker is full of em)! It shows that you’re trustworthy, honest, and not just a sleazy salesman/woman. On the bottom of my resources page, I’ve included a statement that says, “This site earns revenue using affiliate marketing for some products. However, I will never recommend any products that I do not personally use, or have no intentions of using.” You don’t have to put it in those exact words, but something along those lines will suffice! If you’re linking to items in blog posts, just be sure to disclose after each link that it’s an affiliate link. Being straight forward is generally the best policy!
  4. To get the ball rolling, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with letting your friends, family and colleagues know that you’ve started to utilize affiliate marketing! If you know of someone in your world that happens to shop religiously on Amazon, jump on that opportunity! Ask them to make their purchases through your links, instead of going directly through Amazon.com. It’s no extra effort or charge on their part – it’s just helping you get some income through a small commission.

Let me know what affiliate programs you are interested in working with! Leave a comment in the section below to share what you’re doing with affiliate marketing, what has worked for you and what hasn’t! Would love to read about and learn from your experiences.

If you have any questions, send them my way via email anytime. Looking forward to chatting!

Jessie

(photo)

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