Does making money from affiliate programs sound like something you want to try to help improve your financial situation?
Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn extra income, and I know this because I’ve made some good money from them over the years. Now if you’re not sure what affiliate marketing is here is how Wikipedia defines them.
Affiliate Marketing – Is a type of performance based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.
Basically affiliate marketing allows you to sell other companies products and earn a commission on them. This could be anything from Amazon to your small businesses out there.
When I originally started Wallet Impact one of my first goals was to see how fast I could earn extra money through affiliate programs with this blog. This blog was started on May 18, 2014 and is just about 6 months old.
Since starting this blog I’ve now earned $497 in affiliate commissions which all came from one affiliate programs. However you might be saying, ” Well Chris you already have a platform and an established blog.”
My answer to that is this blog is completely brand new. Yup, I started this blog from scratch to show you how making money from affiliate marketing doesn’t have to be that hard and that you can you can actually make some decent money with this.
Now this doesn’t go to say it’s easy, I definitely don’t want to give the wrong impression here, but if you do the right things in the right way it can make some great money over time and even quicker than 6 months.
So in this article I’m going to show you the 8 steps I used earn this extra money and how you can do exactly the same thing.
#1 Pick The Right Program
The first key to making money with affiliate programs is to pick the right program for your niche. One of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers make is that they find a product that does not fit their niche, they do absolutely no research, and as a result make no money.
Before you pick a product you want to know what your audience wants. A good example that you run a personal finance blog and you might think your audience wants a debt relief product but what they really want is a way to earn extra money online.
So how do you go about figuring this out, survey them. Now I personally like to do this using a great tool called Survey Monkey. With Survey Monkey I can design the survey and ask my audience questions that get to the heart of what their real problem is and what kind of solution they are looking for.
So what kind of questions do I ask my audience you might be wondering, well here is a survey I ran when I was first getting started.
As you can see I only asked 5 questions, and I learned a ton of great stuff from my audience in this survey. In total I got 29 responses but you really only need 20 to 30 responses when you’re first getting started.
Just to share a few results from my survey in question 3 I asked what ways are they most interested in learning how to improve their finances and I offered several different options. Below is the result that I got.
In all you can see that earning extra money and saving extra money are my audiences top ways they want to go about improving their finances, which means offering some sort of debt plan or budgeting plan is not what they are looking for as much.
Now you might be saying, how do I find 20 to 30 people to take this survey when I’m just getting started, so here are a few ways that I’ve been able to get people to take my survey.
Give It Time
First just realize that you need to give this time. I didn’t get all of my survey responses in one day and I didn’t expect to get 29 responses in one day. Rather give your survey 30 days or until you get 20 to 30 responses.
Start With Your Existing Network
Second, start is with any existing network you already have. You may or may not have a website or a mailing list to draw from but if you don’t then consider your current social media profiles such as Facebook or Twitter.
If your family and friends fit the description of your target audience then put the survey up on your Facebook page. If you have a Twitter account put your survey up on Twitter and retweet in everyday if not several times a day over the next month.
Do An @reply
Third, do a search on Twitter for keywords that your target market might use and do an @reply. A particular search I would do on Twitter for my target audience is #paychecktopaycheck. Below is a screen shot of how this would look.
From there I scrolled down the page and I am looking for people who are sharing their problems. Below are a few people I found who fit my target market.
Finally, all I do is click the reply button and ask them to take my survey. Below is an example tweet I would send to them.
In all I probably get around 50% and sometimes better when I ask people to take my survey.
Put Your Survey Link In Your Twitter Profile
The last way I was able to get a lot of people take my survey was to put the link for the survey in the link position blow my Twitter Bio. Below is an example of what this might look like.
Make sure you also change your Twitter bio as well to tell people to take your survey as well this will likely drive more people to it and up your chances to get more people to complete it.
#2 Be A User Of The Product
Another important piece to the criteria of succeeding with affiliate marketing is only promoting products that you actually have used. Their are a lot of important reasons why you want to do this but even the top bloggers do this to.
Whether you’re following Pat Flynn, Leslie Samuel, Mark Mason, or any other famed internet celebrity the one thing they know is you don’t want to promote products that you have never used. So here are a few reason why you do not want to do this.
- Bad Experience. First off, you don’t want to recommend a product you haven’t used because it may give your audience a bad experience. Even though it’s not your product this will reflect badly on you and people will be less likely to trust your advice when you give it.
- Allows You To Write More In Depth Content. Secondly, when you are a user and own the product it allows you to share your experiences and get a lot more in depth about the product. If you have never used the product your audience is going to be able to tell it by the way you write the article.
- Converts Better. Finally, because you’ve used the product and you can go more in depth about the content you’ll be more likely to convert more sales as a result. I feel this honest approach is the sole reason I’ve made decent money with affiliate marketing.
#3 Don’t Be Boring
Another area where I see others and myself make mistakes when it comes to affiliate marketing is they make things to boring for their readers.
Face if you’re content is dry as an over cooked steak then people aren’t going to read the whole thing which means people are not going to buy the product you are recommending.
So here are a few ways you can go about spicing up your content that I use.
- Share Stories. First, stories make are a great way to get a point across. Anytime you can add a story it helps people relate and when you can relate you will build that bond of trust with your audience.
- Use Pictures. Pictures are another great way to stand out and not look so boring. Just look at this article and you can see all the different pictures I took doing just screenshots. These can really help get the point across versus just using words. If you are looking for a a tool to take screen shots give this one a try.
- Share Statistics. Statistics are also a great way to build that trust with an audience. By adding stats and linking back to them people will start to associate you as the expert.
- Give Examples. Another thing I will do is just give examples. Sometimes we don’t always have a story to share so I’ll opt for an simple example to get my point across.
- Give Quick Tips. One thing I like to do is add quick tips in my articles. These are like actionable pieces of advice that people grab and use even if they are just scanning my articles.
- Do An Unboxing Video. Another great way I like to stand out really take things to the next level is do an unboxing video. This is were you record yourself opening up the box as you buy the product and share what you’ve learned. If you product is a digital product you can do a screencast. These video’s do very well because they take away the unknown and show people exactly what they will get.
- Break Content Up Into Shorter Segments. Seventh, on this list is to break content up into shorter segments. I like to keep my paragraphs down to 1 to 3 sentences and that’s it. This makes things easier to read and consume. On top of that I also like to use things like bullet points and number list to break up content, and finally consider making your content size a big bigger. I prefer 14 pixel size fonts.
- Write As If You Having A Conversation. Finally, when you are writing your content for your website write it as if you are having a conversation with someone. This will make you content stand out more and not sound so robotic.
Wow, those are some awesome tips and if you liked those keep on reading. I’m pulling all the stops out in this article, and by the way if you have any questions by the end make sure you ask them in the comments below.
#4 Write A Top Notch Review
Now that I’ve covered how to make your content not so boring and make it really shine one of the first articles you should write is a review article. This is an article that gives a complete in and out overview of the product.
So in this section I’m going to share exactly how I go about writing my product reviews to get the most out of them.
- Give An Overview Of The Product. The first thing I like to do is a complete overview of the product itself. In this section I like share exactly everything that is included in the product. On top of that I also like to include an unboxing video as well.
- Share What You Liked About The Product. Next you’ll want share exactly what you liked most about the product. However don’t share what you liked but also why you liked it. For example maybe you liked it because it saves you tons of time or because it makes something simpler for you.
- Share What You Don’t Like About The Product. You’ll also want to share what you don’t like about the product as well. This might sound counterproductive but giving a balanced approach will actually build more trust with your audience. On top of that people don’t just want to hear hype but also know what the flaws are so they can make an informed decision.
- Who Is This Product Meant For. After you’ve covered the pros and cons of the product you’ll want to share who you feel this product is best meant for. The product should not be meant for everyone. Instead define exactly who would be the best fit for the product.
- How Much Does The Product Cost. You should also cover exactly how much the product cost. If their are different packages available make sure you cover all the details. I also like to share if I have a discount as well, this can get more people interested if they know they are getting a good deal.
- Give Your Call To Action. Finally, the most important part is the call to action which comes at the end of the post. This is where you simple tell them to buy your product. The key here is to just be straight forward and tell them exactly what they should do.
#5 Place Your Links Correctly
Now that I’ve covered how to write your review post and make it interesting their is still one very important part you need to do yet and that is to add your affiliate links to the article so people can buy the product.
If you haven’t found your product their are several ways you can go about doing this. Here are a few that I recommend.
- Join An Affiliate Network. The first way to find an affiliate is to join a network. There are a bunch of them out there such as Commisson Junction, Share A Sale, and Flex Offers. This can be a great way to manage your affiliate relationships do everything from one place but the downside is that not all affiliates use a network.
- Do A Search In Google. Another way to find companies you want to promote is to do a Google search for them. For example you could type in Company Name Affiliate Program in Google and they would likely bring up a page where you can join.
In my case I actually do both of these. Some of the programs I’m affiliated with are part of a network and some these programs are run by the companies themselves. Once you sign up for an affiliate it may take a few days till you get approved.
Now that you have your affiliate program the next step is to place the links within the review article you have created. However before you just go and slap a bunch of links in your article I have a few tips that will make things a bit more effective for you.
- Only Add 3 To 4 Links. First off, don’t overwhelm people with tons of affiliate links in your articles. This can be a huge turn off for people. Instead stick to 3 to 4 affiliate links at max.
- Place The Links In Optimal Places. Next place the links throughout the page. I prefer to have one at the top of the page, one or two in the middle of the page, and one link for your call to action at the bottom of the page.
- Use Tracking Codes. Next if you have the ability add tracking codes to each link. Adding a tracking code is simple to do and helps you identify which link is actually making the sale for you. In my case I’ve found my call to action link at the bottom of my review post to make the majority of my sales.
- Optimize Your Call To Action. Finally, you need to optimize your call to action so people will buy your product. To do this I’ve found keeping things as simple and to the point as possible. So people get the call to action I usually just create a link that says something like this, Click Here To Buy Now, or Click Here To Learn More.
Once you have the article written and the links placed you are done, wrong. Now you need to promote and test your review article.
#6 Promote Your Review Post
Once your article is written and published you might think things are done but your are far from it. Now is the time to promote this article. Below are a few different ways that I like to go about promote post, all of which are free.
- Twitter Hash Tags. On thing I like to do to promote my articles is post it on twitter. On top of that I also like to add a hash tag that goes along with it. This can be a great way to find other groups of people on Twitter especially if you don’t have many followers. The trick is to find the hash tag that your audience uses.
- Groups. Another place I found some great traction with is groups. Whether it’s Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, or even groups on Google+ they work great for interacting with people in your target audience and drawing them back to your site.
- Email List. An email list is another great way to build to promote your content. I’ve been doing this for some time now and it always amazes me how many people come back over and over to read my content.
- Guest Posting. Doing guest post has also helped me get the word out. Find a few bloggers in your niche and ask to do a guest post and then link back to your review as a solution.
- Search Engines. Finally, over time the search engines will start to trust your site more and more and your review will eventually rank high in Google driving in a constant trickle of traffic. Over time some of these people will buy.
#7 Improve The Things That Work
Once your review is live you’ll want to start tracking things to see where you can improve things. In fact one thing you should always being doing no matter what is testing something on that page to see if you can improve it. In this section I will show you how to go about doing this.
First off you are going to need a few tools to help you track things.
- Google Analytic’s. First you are need to have Google Analytic’s installed. If you’ve never used this tool before it will basically tell you how much traffic is coming to your site, how long they are staying, and a whole lot more. You can get Google Analytic’s by clicking here.
- Heat Map. The next thing you’ll want to do is install a heat map on your review post. A heat map shows you exactly what people are clicking on in your post and what they are doing. Their are several companies that offer this but I prefer this one by SumoMe.com.
Now that you have the right tools you need to give your article some time an wait. If your site is brand new this could take some time but after a month you should have a small amount of data to work with. So here is what you should do.
Step 1: See What Is Working. To start you want to see where your traffic is coming from. To do this go into your Google Analytic’s and click on Behavior,then Site Content, then All Pages, then click on your review article, then click on the secondary dimension to the right, and click on Source under Acquisition. Below is a picture of what I’m talking about.
Doing this will tell you exactly where your content is all coming from for your review post. You’ll also want to look at your the heat map you set up for your review post as well. This will show you where people are clicking within the article and show you where any hangups might be.
If no one is clicking on the links with in your article this should be an obvious sign that you need to change something. If you see a lot of clicks on your links but no sales this should also be another sign that you may need to change something.
Step 2: Write Down Your Stats. Now that you’ve done a basic review of your review post you’ll want to create an Excel spreadsheet to record this information in so you can track your improvements. Here are some basic stats you’ll want to keep track of.
- Time Period. First list the time period when the test started to when it ended.
- Total Traffic. Second, just write down the total amount of traffic you got, which I just shared how to do above.
- Amount Of Clicks. Next you’ll want to record how many clicks you’ve got from all of this traffic. You will have to dig through your affiliate stats to find this number.
- Click Through Rate(CTR). Once you have the total amount of traffic you and the total amount of clicks you can determine what your click through rate was to your affiliate is by dividing the total amount of clicks by the total amount of traffic. For example if you had 5 clicks from 100 people who visited the page you would have a 5% click through rate.
- Amount Of Sales. Next you’ll want to list how many sales you made.
- Total Earnings. Then you’ll want to list the total amount of earning you made.
- Earning Per Click (EPC). From here you can determine what your EPC also know as an earning per click by dividing the total earnings by the amount of sales you have made. For example if you got 10 clicks and your made 1 sale of $50 your EPC would be $5 per click. That means each click you got to your affiliate you are earning $5 on average.
- Improvements. Finally in the last section on your spreadsheet you can list the improvements you plan to make. I’ll cover more on this in the next step.
Step 3: Make One Small Improvement. Now that you have recorded your stats the next step is to determine what small improvement you could make. Their are a lot of things you could improve on your article to see if it will improve your conversion rate. However my only suggestion is to test one thing at a time this way you will know what works and what does not work.
So here are a few things you could test.
- Call To Action Link. Test different call to actions. My suggestion is to make it as direct and to the point as possible.
- Images & Videos. Try adding some videos and more images to see if they help.
- Font Sizes. Make your font size bigger. If things are hard to read then people may not follow through.
- Font Colors. Try making your links a different color.
Step 4: Rinse And Repeat. Finally the last step is to rinse and repeat the process over trying something different each and every month. Once the page gains a lot of traffic and momentum you may want to consider doing this every week.
Also know that not everything will work that you try. You may test something and find that it did not work. Then all you have to do is simply revert back to what you were doing and test something new again.
#8 Write More Than One Article
Finally, in this last section know that doing just a review article on a product is only the beginning. Their are a bunch of different places you can mention your affiliate links so here are a few to think about.
- Ask Yourself Different Questions. One thing I like to do is think about the types of questions people ask when buying the product I’m promoting. For example, how much does it cost, is the product worth it, how can I get the product cheaper. All of these potential questions could be a blog post on their own and be an answer that someone is looking for.
- Create A Resource Center. Here a tip I learned from Leslie Samuel over at BecomeABlogger.com who said why not create an entire resource center around that one product. In his example he is promoting a email provider and shares how to do everything from setting up your list to moving contacts from your old email provider to the new one. If you would like to see what this looks like you can check it out here.
- Do A Product Matrix. Next you could create a product matrix comparing your affiliate product against several other similar products. To do this you can use a free WordPrss plugin call TablePress. You can check that out here.
- Mention In Relevant Places. Finally, the last place you can mention your affiliate is any place that is relevant to the conversation going on. My only suggestion here is to not over do it because this could look a little spammy otherwise.
Are You Ready To Get Started In Affiliate Marketing
I know that I’ve put a lot of detail into this article and you may still have more questions but if you are someone looking to improve your financial situation then affiliate marketing might just be the way to do it.
So what are your thoughts? Are you thinking about getting into affiliate marketing or are you already doing it. Share your thoughts, comments, and ideas below.