Affiliate marketing is, and will likely always remain, my favorite method for making money online. At the risk of repeating myself, here’s why every blogger should get into the affiliate marketing game –
I could go on, but let’s state the obvious and most important aspect: Affiliate marketing is great because you can make very good money for very little effort.
Don’t get me wrong, it requires effort to get to a situation where you can make money as an affiliate, but once you are there the actual process for making money is very, very simple. It’s as easy as writing a blog post or sending an email.
I remember about four years ago reading all those hyped-up sales pages from Internet marketers, and I come across the phrase “it’s like printing money”.
I’ve never been a hater of sales copy, although obvious hype agitates me just like anyone else. I certainly believed that some people were enjoying a situation where they could just send emails and make big money, but I was personally very far away from that. Jealousy mixed with depression about my own results, were the dominant emotions I felt at the time when I read what other people were achieving apparently so easily.
My first attempt at “printing money” as an affiliate was with my blog when it was about six months old. I put in a couple of hours to write a blog post about Perry Marshall’s Definitive Guide To Google AdWords and managed to print about $20 in commissions – one sale.
I was disappointed given it had taken me six months of consistent work on my blog to make that $20, however I was also encouraged. I could see given enough time and energy, that $20 could be $200 and then $2,000 and even $20,000. Today I have the audacity to believe it could be $200,000 one day too.
Fast forward to the year 2009 and the first six month’s of affiliate promotions have gone like this…
…And this doesn’t include the ongoing commissions I’m still earning from previous promotions and recursive products.
All bragging aside, it’s clear for me affiliate income has gone on to become a huge source of income and yes, I now understand what it is like to “print money”.
In most of the examples above all I did was write one blog post and/or possibly one or two emails, and that is it. Some were just one email of a couple of hundred words. Really, that is how hard it is, at least from a physical labor point of view.
So how can you get into a position like this and make big money as an affiliate blogger? Here are my tips…
I don’t have a magic button for you, and no one does, but what I can do is break down some facts regarding my own success.
Let’s start with a really, really important point that on the surface you might not realize is there. This intangible factor is “trust“.
The reason I can make any sales at all is I have built up enough trust with a group of people that they look to me for information about a certain subject and trust any product recommendations I make. That very likely includes you, since you are reading this article.
That trust was created in many ways. If you want to see the very first piece of trust I ever built publicly, go read the very first blog post I made to this blog (well maybe not the very first, but from about January 2005 onwards when I started writing about entrepreneurship).
Each blog post from that point forward has acted as a small tool to build trust. Each podcast I have published does the same, as does every video I make. The free reports I release are huge trust building tools, and when I’m speaking on stage, or during a teleconference or even just networking at an event, I’m building trust.
Not every person is exposed to the same trust building mechanisms, but at some point, every affiliate sale I make happened because I first got the attention of that person, and they trusted me enough to order something through my affiliate link.
So, with that subtle requirement out of the way, let’s take a look at some more practical advanced techniques you use to make more money as an affiliate.
Here are what I consider the key techniques that really ramped up my success as an affiliate marketer –
1. I operate in the make money online niche.
I’m not going to suggest that you should go out and start promoting in the make money niche, and there’s reasons why I can enjoy success in this market and most people cannot (that’s an entire article in itself), but let’s state another obvious point – “how to make money” is a very profitable market to be in.
Why? – Because a lot of people want to make more money, pretty much everybody on this planet, and it’s a very painful problem that is highly motivating.
The Internet marketing niche also has a constant stream of new products coming out, with powerful marketing behind them. Marketers who market how to market products are very good at marketing (lol!). They wouldn’t be making money in that niche if they weren’t, so as an affiliate for them, it’s easier to make sales since they have a solid process for selling what they sell.
It also helps that there are some very high priced products in this niche with some big commissions – as high as several thousand dollars per sale. This means you can make a lot of money with just a few sales.
This shouldn’t discourage you if you are in another market. I’ve made just as much money selling someone else’s $47 a month membership site product as a $2,000 home study course as an affiliate, so you don’t have to promote high priced items to succeed. What matters is that there are quality products with quality marketing processes available to promote. Many, many other markets also have quality products you can promote (just take a look at the Clickbank marketplace for examples).
I want to be clear one of the main reasons why I make so much money as an affiliate is because I am in the industry I am in. I didn’t plan it that way, but in hindsight it makes a big difference. If you can get into the how to make money/business opportunity/Internet marketing niche, it’s a great one to be in. One day I really should put out a product on how to succeed in this niche (what do you think?).
2. You must leverage an email list
Once again at the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me emphasize how important email marketing is.
I make at least three times as many sales as an affiliate because of email. If I just used my blog I honestly believe I’d be making maybe a quarter of the money I currently make. Email is just that powerful.
Take for example Darren Rowse’s recent release of his “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” book. I was privileged enough to be one of his first affiliate partners and my business partner Gideon Shalwick was too. Gideon sent one email to his list and I sent one email to my list and I’m pretty sure Gideon was the top affiliate and I was second (Gideon offered a bonus, that’s why he did better – see the next point).
Darren noticed the impact of email too and wrote about the results saying that email promos where converting better than blog posts and blog posts were converting better than Twitter tweets (that to me is a representation of the best online marketing mechanisms we have online today and the order of effectiveness too: 1. Email 2. Blog 3. Twitter).
I could go and on about how to effectively use email and a blog together to make affiliate sales, but this article is long enough, I’ll save that for another day.
The lesson: Go register for an Aweber account and start building your list.
3. Offer bonuses as incentives
You may have noticed that I’ve been consistently offering different bonuses if people order products through my affiliate link. This is nothing new in the Internet marketing world, yet so few people do it.
The problem most people have is they just don’t have good bonuses to offer. If you don’t have your own high perceived value products to include and you’re not prepared to make some kind of quality bonus, then this technique won’t work.
Sure you can buy PLR articles or ebooks and throw them in, but if they are not quality products, they have low perceived value or they are not congruent with the affiliate offer you are making, it’s not going to help you make more sales.
Bonuses that are congruent with the affiliate offer being made are fantastic incentives for people to buy from you. That makes sense, however there is another benefit of offering bonuses you may not know about.
Including a bonus means you can “track” your affiliate orders. Let’s me state an unfortunate truth – affiliate tracking systems, even the best ones, will not track every sale you make. Cookies can be cleared or blocked, scripts may not track accurately or another affiliate might nab your referral just as the product goes on sale. This sucks, but you have to accept it because that’s just the way it is right now.
Offering a bonus means that when a person comes to claim it from you, you can correlate their order and ensure you get credit. I’ve gained several thousands of dollars just in the last six months when orders were not correctly counted as mine, so when a person comes claiming a bonus, they can then ensure you get credit. This is a very important, if rarely talked about, benefit of offering bonuses.
If you can find a way to come up with a valuable and relevant bonus when doing an affiliate promotion, go for it, it’s a great way to increase your sales.
4. Access to more people (More Traffic)
Most affiliate marketing trainers emphasize improving conversion and I’d be an idiot not to agree with that. However, and this is simply a result of my own dislike of conversion testing, I’ve tended to focus more on attracting more people than conversion, which has resulted in more sales.
That first $20 affiliate sale all those years ago became a $200 sale because I went from 500 visitors a day to 5000. I’ve had $20,000 affiliate commission pay days because I can reach 50,000 plus people via email and another 20,000 via my blog. My conversion rate hasn’t changed much, but my access to an audience has.
It may seem obvious, but the more traffic you have the more you can make as an affiliate. Profit is a function of traffic, especially as an affiliate marketer. Improving conversion is obviously a good idea, but don’t forget that having influence over a steadily increasing audience size – especially if your traffic grows organically – is a sure-fire way to increase sales.
As an encouragement, consider how much money you make now as an affiliate and then consider what it might be like if you can double, triple or even multiply your traffic by ten times. Do the numbers look a lot better than? Yeah, I bet they do.
It’s tough at the beginning, but if you have faith and the trends show that you are growing, it’s only a matter of time before you will make more money because you will have more traffic, as long as you keep doing what you are doing.
I’ve laid out some of the big “secrets” to making the big dollars as an affiliate product selling blogger. These are of course the elements that have impacted me the most, and no situation is the same across the board.
Some crazy fools like Shoemoney love to improve conversion – it’s a passion for them – so getting extreme leverage is possible and thus huge affiliate income is a daily result.
Understand that the potential exists for everyone, if you’re prepared to put in the work to get good at something and lay the foundation for the day when you can “print money” – even print four and five figure pay days on a regular basis.
And learn how to build a better blog.