If you have a blog, you may already be on your way to becoming a successful affiliate marketer. Whether you write on WordPress, LinkedIn, Medium or some other blogging system, you’ve got a platform that gives you the chance to share information with your readers about the brands you love and to make some money doing it.
Through my work founding an influencer monetization and cashback shopping platform, I’ve found there are a few caveats it’s good to be aware of. While data shows that affiliate sites featuring content and blogs ranked very highly in terms of total ad spend, generating marketing revenue from your blog isn’t as easy as linking to a company’s press release or gushing about their latest offering. Here are four guidelines for bloggers to be successful affiliate marketers.
1. Strike the right tone.
First, if you’re creating a blog for the sole purpose of promoting something, you should stop before you even begin. Nine out of 10 times, you’ll fail. People read blogs because they want to be informed about a particular topic or read a unique and engaging perspective. Sometimes they read blogs because they’re looking for an honest opinion about a product or service. Hardly anyone wants to read a product pitch.
Start by writing about things you and your readers care about. Perhaps you’re particularly passionate about wine. Share your personal experiences about the topic, including some of the wines or wine-related products you use. Provide recommendations to your readers. Eventually, you’ll create a community of like-minded followers — a built-in, highly targeted audience naturally interested in the same products and services you love.
Don’t try to sell your community on those products. Instead, engage in honest conversations about what you like and don’t like about various products. This approach can help you to build trust with your audience and become a valued influencer.
2. Keep your audience top of mind.
Once you’ve built your audience, you’re essentially committing to providing them with an ongoing resource for valuable content. Sometimes that can be difficult. Like all writers, bloggers can run out of ideas. If that’s the case, it can help to do some research to get your creative juices flowing.
Start by taking a look at what people are searching for. There are a number of good free keyword search tools you can use to gauge which terms are generating the most traffic. Maybe searches for a particular type of wine have spiked over the past month, or searches for “wine subscription” have increased thanks to the pandemic. Discovering what’s popular can help generate ideas on topics to write about and attract more attention to your blog.
More importantly, research can open opportunities to engage with your audience about things they’re interested in right now. You can tell readers about the products and services you recommend or help them choose a solution that suits their needs. Any bit of good advice you give will add to your reputation as a thought leader and give you a chance to promote the brands you care about.
Be sure to extend those conversations beyond your blog, which should just be one of the channels you post on regularly. Consider developing additional unique content for sites like Medium, LinkedIn, YouTube and other resources, and link that content back to your blog so you can benefit from more search traffic. You can use apps like Telegram, Discord or Clubhouse to chat with your readers.
Engaging with readers on multiple fronts can help you build relationships, show off your expertise and give you other avenues to promote the solutions you believe in.
3. Monetize your content.
Now, you’re in a good position to monetize your blog content and turn your site into an affiliate marketing vehicle, so long as you keep your content informative and not too “salesy.”
Sharing information about deals as they come up is a good tactic. As a brand advocate, you’ll know when the companies you follow are offering the best deals, and you can connect your readers to these deals via affiliate links. The trust you’ve built will come in handy, as your followers will be more willing to follow your recommendations. Indeed, they’ll likely appreciate the heads-up about a discount on a product or service they might be interested in.
Remember to keep up with these deals, which can regularly change or quickly expire, leading to broken links. Working with a third-party influencer monetization platform can help with this challenge by automatically tracking live and expired deals and helping negotiate rates with brand partners. [Disclosure: My company provides this service.] Bloggers can also work directly with brands via their affiliate programs and keep track of all the latest deals and coupons being offered via their available newly published and expiring links as well as the brand’s partner newsletters.
4. Promote your blog (and yourself).
Once you’re up and running, continue to ingrain yourself in the community you’re involved in. Leverage a wide array of social media channels to interact with your readers and promote your blog and your personal brand.
Don’t just settle for the big sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Engage with your followers where they are. For instance, there are plenty of online forums and question-and-answer websites. Wherever your followers are, be sure to become part of their group. Use these platforms to inform and interact with fellow enthusiasts and invite them to continue the discussion over on your blog.
In short, keep building your audience so you can create more chances to monetize your content and write about the things you love. Just remember to always keep your content authentic, honest and helpful.