I am asked fairly regularly by clients about affiliate links, what they are and how to use them, so here are the basics of how it works, along with my recommendations.
When you are an affiliate for a company, you advertise their products. If someone purchases something, or signs up for something from your advertising, you get a commission from the company.
Affiliate links are the ads you place in your blog (or on social media). They can be images in your sidebar, your posts, or just text links in the middle of a sentence.
Affiliate links are currently the only way I monetize my own blog and I highly recommend it (you can see an example here).
My favorites, and the only three affiliate programs I currently use are Amazon, Etsy (through Awin), and ShareASale. (The Etsy and ShareASale links are affiliate links. Yes…you can even be an affiliate for affiliate programs. So if you sign up to be an affiliate after clicking those links, I will get a dollar amount added to my account. See how it works? I recommend it, you check it out, if you want to participate, then it’s a win for you, me, and Etsy sellers/ShareASale.)
How to profit from affiliate links
I am definitely not making a killing off of affiliate links, but that’s because I do it pretty passively. If you put a little planning into what products you’ll promote, and then continue to promote your posts, you can do quite well from it.
In my experience, the way to make the most profit from affiliate links is by showcasing one main product throughout a tutorial blog post. Show your visitors how they can make one awesome craft, dinner, outfit, or project using *this one* tool. (Don’t go overboard and make it sound like an ad for the product–keep the focus on your project or recipe, but do talk about why the product you’re linking to is especially unique or helpful for the job.)
Amazon’s affiliate program
We’ll use Amazon as an example first. When you are writing a blog post, and talking about a product you recommend, here’s how it works:
- Sign into your Amazon account.
- Search for the product just as you would if you were shopping for yourself. Click on the particular product. You will have a bar across the top of your screen that says “Amazon Associates SiteStripe.” Like this:
- Inside the SiteStripe, next to “Get Link” click on either “Text” or “Image” depending on how you want to advertise the product. If you don’t want an image of the product, select “Text” then copy the link that pops up below.
- Go back to your blog, highlight the text that you want to be your link, and paste the link there just like any other.
If you want an image, just copy the image link, and paste it in your blog post.
- At some point, in the same paragraph, let your readers know that that link is an affiliate link (it’s the law).
That’s it! Publish and promote your post as usual.
When someone clicks on your affiliate link, you will get a commission (the amount varies from 1% to 10% depending on the product category) of their next purchase within 24 hours (whether it’s the item you recommended, or something else entirely. Once, someone clicked my link to a $4 can of spray paint, and ended up spending around $600 on other things–not bad for one person clicking one link I had made a couple years before.) 🙂
One of the really great things about Amazon is that they have almost every product you would want to link to, and it can also be used for items in their new handmade marketplace.
Side Note: Make sure your affiliate links are NOFOLLOW
There is a long story behind dofollow and nofollow links. All you need to know is that if the link is an affiliate link or you are receiving payment in any way for it, it MUST be nofollow or Google will banish you to page 546 of search results.
The easiest way to do that is by adding the plugin called Rel Nofollow Checkbox to your blog. Then when you are ready to paste a link, click on the little gear icon that comes up, and check the box that says nofollow. Also, check “open in new tab” while you’re in there so you don’t lose your readers once they check out the link you’re recommending.
ShareASale’s affiliate program
ShareASale works a little bit differently than Amazon. You sign up with ShareASale (free and easy), and then apply for individual affiliate programs inside it. For example, ModCloth (another affiliate link) has an affiliate program inside ShareASale. Each program chooses their own percentage to pay you. ModCloth offers you 5% of each sale you send them. Other popular shops that you can sign up with through ShareASale are Wayfair, Cricut, Zulily, TinyPrints, Gymboree, Craftsy, and hundreds more.
When you sign up with them, linking isn’t as user-friendly as Amazon, but they give you all the tutorials you need.
General affiliate info
With Amazon and ShareASale, your commissions never expire like most other programs, so there’s no pressure, and no wasting your time. Almost all affiliate programs have a dollar amount threshold you have to reach before they pay you. Amazon is only $10, and ShareASale is $50. I had an account with another major company, but closed after I was *this close* to their threshold for being paid, but then didn’t make a sale for them for three months, so they took the money back. 🙁 If you’re going to really promote your affiliate links and sell more aggressively than me, you’ll be okay, but if you’re just starting out, I recommend Amazon and ShareASale to get your feet wet.
If you’re a fashion blogger, RewardStyle is the standard, but you do have to have a following before they will approve your application to join, so focus on building up your traffic first.
And one last note: if you blog on the free wordpress.COM platform (not your own self-hosted blog), they have many restrictions on you making money from your blog, so do some research first. But the other major blog platforms like Blogger and SquareSpace, etc definitely allow affiliate links.