19 easy ways to increase your affiliate income from your blog
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Love the sound of earning passive income from affiliate links on your blog, but can’t seem to make it work on YOUR blog? Here are 19 easy ways to increase your affiliate income!
If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you’ve probably at some point at least dabbled in affiliate marketing as a way of boosting your blogging income.
But perhaps you are a little bit disappointed with your affiliate income?
Maybe you feel as if you are not earning nearly as much as you’d hoped to earn from affiliate links?
Or perhaps you’ve already written off affiliate marketing as a waste of time?
If that’s you, I’d really encourage you to take another look at affiliate marketing, because – done right – it can be an incredible source of (more or less) passive income for bloggers.
But only if it’s done right!
And the problem is, the majority of bloggers don’t do it right.
Most bloggers just don’t think strategically about affiliate marketing… because, I hate to break it to you, but… randomly adding affiliate links to blog posts as and when you think about it and then hoping the pounds / dollars / euros are going to come rolling is only going to lead to disappointment!
But the good news is, making decent money from affiliate links on your blog is totally possible – and actually quite easy, once you get the hang of it.
Ready to get started and actually make some proper money from affiliate links on your blog?
Then read on!
But first a quick primer, for those of you who are new to affiliate marketing, or a little unsure how it all works…
What is affiliate marketing?
Put simply, affiliate marketing is a way of earning money on your blog by getting a commission for promoting other people’s products.
How do bloggers earn money from affiliate marketing?
It works like this:
- You recommend a product on your blog
- You link to that product using a special ‘affiliate’ link
- Your readers click on your affiliate link and buy that product
- You get paid a commission for each time someone buys that product using your affiliate link
How much money can a blogger expect to make from affiliate marketing?
Honestly? The sky is the limit here. There are bloggers who earn a very good full-time income from affiliate marketing.
However, there are many bloggers who are sadly only earning a few dollars a month – not because of their niche or lack of traffic… but because they are going about affiliate marketing all wrong… if this is you – don’t lose heart! Read on to find out how you can dramatically increase your affiliate income.
Why is affiliate income such a great source of income for bloggers?
The reason affiliate marketing is such a good way to make money is because it is essentially passive.
OK, so there is a little up-front work to be done researching good affiliate schemes, writing blog posts designed to ‘sell’ those affiliate links and adding appropriate affiliate links to individual posts. But essentially, once the up-front work is done, the income is passive.
Great for beginners
It’s also a great way to start making money as a beginner blogger. When you first start out blogging, your traffic levels will be too small to make money from ads or sponsored posts, and you won’t have built up enough trust or authority to start selling a digital product or service. But you can start earning money from affiliate links, right from the get-go.
Not only that, but if you have an affiliate income mindset when you first start out and put in the work of adding in affiliate links right from the beginning, once your traffic starts to increase, so will your income!
Almost any niche
Affiliate income is great because it works for almost any niche. So long as there are products out there that your audience is likely to want to buy, you can make affiliate links work!
Done right it’s great for readers too!
And affiliate links – when they are done right – can be great for your readers too. Affiliate posts are almost always based around helping your readers with a problem. You give great advice to help your reader out and also link to an affiliate product that will help them even more. A win for everyone!
You don’t need huge traffic volumes
Again, if you do affiliate marketing well, you don’t necessarily need huge traffic volumes to earn good money from affiliate sales. When it comes to affiliate marketing, a small audience who really trusts you, listens to you and acts on your advice, is far more valuable that a large but unengaged audience. This is why email marketing is so important in affiliate marketing.
While you don’t need a huge audience to make affiliate marketing pay, the great news is that, once you are earning some money from affiliate links, it’s very easy to scale – precisely because affiliate marketing is so passive. This is in contrast to say sponsored posts or services where you are limited by the time you have available.
19 easy ways to increase your affiliate income from your blog
1. Really get to know your audience
The first and most important thing to do when it comes to making good money from affiliate marketing is to really get to know your audience. This is a step that is often missed out, but it is vital if you want to make really good money from affiliate sales.
You need to understand exactly who your audience are, what their main problems are and what they are likely to be in the mood for buying.
If you don’t really understand your audience, then you are likely to suggest affiliate products on your blog that are just not what your audience are interested in buying.
To truly understand your audience and their problems, look at what they are saying to you in comments on your blog and social media, and in personal emails to you. Look also at your audience demographics and your most popular posts in Google Analytics.
But also, ASK THEM! You can do this by asking questions in your social media and email newsletters, or better still, by creating an audience survey in Typeform* or SurveyMonkey.
For example, a food blogger could ask on their social media channels, ‘What is the next thing you plan to buy for your kitchen?’
2. Join the right affiliate schemes
Once you know what your audience most want, the next step is to join the right affiliate schemes.
Here is another place where blogger often fall down: don’t just join Amazon Affiliates and think you are done!
You need to properly research what affiliate schemes are available out there in your niche. Think of products your audience are extremely likely to want to buy and then do your homework and find out what other affiliate programmes are out there in your niche – you might be quite surprised!
Now this is not to say joining Amazon Affiliates is a bad idea. Amazon Affiliates has two great things going for it…
The first is that you can buy almost anything on Amazon – so it’s suitable for all niches.
And the second is that you get commission for all products bought through your affiliate link – even if none of them were the product you actually recommended.
But Amazon’s affiliate commissions are pretty low and they are not recurring. So when you research affiliate programmes, try to find products which have a much better commission rate and/or are recurring (the holy grail of affiliate marketing!).
3. Pick the right affiliate products
First, you need to pick products that you know your audience is likely to want to buy.
Second, you need to pick products that you truly believe in. Do not promote products that you don’t really love (and preferably only pick products you use yourself!). It you are not 100% passionate in the product you are promoting, this will be obvious to your readers and mean you are much less likely to make a sale. But worse, if you promote products that are not good, your audience will stop trusting you and your advice, and this is likely to seriously dent your opportunities for future affiliate income.
Third, you need to pick products that pay good commission. Unless you have huge traffic volumes, it is pretty unlikely that you are ever going to make a decent affiliate income from promoting products that cost just a few dollars and pay pennies in affiliate commission. Instead focus your affiliate marketing efforts on higher ticket products which pay decent affiliate commissions and/or recurring commissions.
4. Optimise your top posts
The first thing to do, if you haven’t already, is optimise your top blog posts for affiliate income. This is basically your ‘low hanging fruit’. These posts have good traffic, so you will get more eyes on those affiliate links.
Use Google Analytics to find out what your top posts are and then read through each of them to see if you can add any sensible affiliate links to them. It may be you can’t (Don’t add totally random, unrelated affiliate links to your top posts just for the sake of it – that won’t work!) But where you can, add in sensible affiliate links to those top posts to take advantage of their high traffic levels.
For example, say you are a travel blogger and your top post is an ultimate guide to packing a suitcase, could you add affiliate links to a particular brand of suitcases you recommend?
5. Create posts dedicated to ‘selling’ affiliate products
While adding in affiliate links to top posts is a good idea to capitalise on the high traffic those posts already get, that is not the BEST way to earn money from affiliate links.
The best way to earn money from affiliate links is by creating posts which are specifically designed to ‘sell’ those affiliate links.
Now, let me back up here, I am not suggesting you start writing ‘hard sell’ blog posts which basically just say ‘buy this product’ in lots of different ways – that is likely to put your audience off!
No, what I mean is blog posts which YOU know are designed to sell a particular affiliate product… but which don’t actually appear like that to your readers.
To your readers, the blog post you write should look like a blog post designed to help them… and indeed that is what it should be!
The main thrust of any ‘affiliate’ blog post should be to help your reader with a particular problem they are having… the majority of your blog post should be designed to help them with that problem and deliver real value and helpful solutions – whether or not they buy the affiliate product. But you should design the post so it leads naturally to a sale (of the affiliate product you want to promote) for the reader to get maximum help with their problem.
Good examples of ‘affiliate’ blog posts are ‘how to’ posts and ‘roundup’ posts.
Let me give you an example of each…
Let’s say you are a cake blogger. A good ‘how to’ post, could be ‘a complete tutorial for beginners on how to decorate ombré cakes’. Within that post, you would naturally add links to all the equipment you recommend. The post is 100% helpful to the reader, but in order for them to get the most out of your post, they will most likely need to purchase the kit… and you’ve helped them out there too, by making helpful recommendations.
Or let’s say you are a running blogger. A good ‘roundup’ post might be a roundup of ‘essential kit you will need if you are planning to train for your first marathon’. Again, super helpful for anyone considering running their first marathon – but also, you can pepper this post with super helpful recommendations with (affiliate) links to the exact items you would personally go for.
6. Create posts targeted at the right keywords
But before you go crazy creating awesome blog posts that both help your reader and ‘sell’ your affiliate links, you need to make sure you are writing the right posts. In other words, you need to make sure you are targeting the right keywords!
This is probably THE BIGGEST mistake I see bloggers making when it comes to affiliate marketing (and I’ve made it myself in the past too!)
You see not all keywords are created equally. Or, perhaps it’s better to say, not all Google searches were created equally.
Broadly speaking there are 4 types of Google search:
- Navigational: This is where a user is searching for a particular website. So for example, when a user types ‘Productive Blogging’ into a Google.
- Informational: This is where a user is searching for the answer to a question. For example, ‘How do I earn more money from affiliate links on my blog?’
- Investigational: This is where a user is searching for information which is very likely to lead to a purchase. For example, ‘Best email marketing service for bloggers’.
- Transactional: This is where a user is ready to buy. For example, ‘ConvertKit pricing’.
Now pay close attention, because what I am about to say is likely to make the difference between really good affiliate income and really bad affiliate income…
“To make really good affiliate income, you need to target INVESTIGATIONAL KEYWORDS”
In other words, you need to target Google searches where the searcher is in the mood to BUY!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with affiliate marketing is targeting ‘informational’ keywords – Google searches where the user is essentially ‘just browsing’ and not at all planning on making a purchase.
To go back to my examples above…
You are much more likely to make good affiliate income from a complete beginner’s tutorial on how to make ombré cakes, than just a recipe for ‘Ombré cake’. Why? Because someone who is googling beginner’s tutorials is a) likely not to have all the kit already and b) probably in the mood to buy all the kit so they can get started.
Again with the running blog example, you are far more likely to make money from a post about ‘essential kit you will need if you are planning to train for your first marathon’, than a post on ‘how to run your first marathon’ or ‘first marathon training plan’.
7. Do your keyword research
Of course, it is not enough to simply think up good post titles for people who are in the mood to buy. Once you have come up with some good post ideas, you then need to do some proper keyword research… to work out which of your ideas are most likely to perform well on Google.
Although blog traffic does not matter AS MUCH with affiliate sales as it does with say Mediavine ads, traffic still matters! The more eyeballs you get on your posts, the more opportunities you will have for a sale! So, it makes sense to pick topics where there are lots of Google searches and not much competition.
If you are a little unsure how to do keyword research, I recommend you look at my post on keyword research for bloggers… which gives step by step instructions on how to actually DO keyword research as well as a handy keyword research calculator!
Or, if you prefer the video version, check out my keyword research video training
8. Optimise your blog posts – for SEO
But your SEO efforts should not stop at picking good keywords, you then need to make sure you optimise your post for that keyword phrase (and related secondary keyword phrases.)
If you need help with this, check out this blog post: How to optimise an individual blog post
9. Optimise your blog posts – for affiliate sales
You may well be familiar with optimising your posts for SEO, but when it comes to trying to maximise your affiliate revenue, you also need to optimise your post for affiliate sales.
For example, you need to write your post in a way that will naturally cause your reader to really want your recommended affiliate product by the end.
And you also want to make sure you offer plenty of opportunities throughout the post for readers to click on the affiliate links. (Remember many readers will never make it to the bottom of your blog posts!)
You need to tread a fine line between making sure readers do actually click on the affiliate link, but without forcing the affiliate product down their throats with lots of ‘buy now’ messages.
Remember you don’t want your post to seem like an affiliate post to your reader, but you do want them to click on the links and buy the product!
I find in general the best way to do this is usually to position your post rather like a helpful message from a friend: really put yourself into the shoes of your reader and try to thoroughly help them with their problem, and at the same time, casually mention (and link to) the affiliate product(s) throughout the post in a way that is natural and helpful.
Right at the end, you can make your case for the product a little more forcefully in the style of ‘if you really want to excel at this / if you want to take this to the next level / if you want the shortcut or easy way…’ and then give your recommendation more clearly.
And remember too that you want your audience to believe and trust in you and your recommendations – so include why you personally recommend this thing. What has been your personal experience of it? Why do you recommend this one and not other similar products? This type of personal recommendation and experience will often seal the deal!
10. Create lots of pins!
While the majority of the traffic to your affiliate posts is likely to come from search engines (at least so long as you have done your keyword research properly and fully optimised your blog post for search engines), don’t neglect Pinterest!
Pinterest is also a type of search engine, and people also use Pinterest a lot with that investigational intent: where a user is searching for information which is very likely to lead to a purchase.
So, once you have created each affiliate post, make sure you create several pinnable images for it too – then pin them all onto relevant Pinterest boards!
For more help with Pinterest, check out this post: Pinterest for Bloggers
11. Get serious about email marketing
Email is a massive (and largely underestimated) weapon in your arsenal when it comes to making affiliate sales.
And the reason is twofold…
Firstly, email is the place where you can nurture your readers: getting them to know, like and trust you. People are much more likely to buy from people they know than random strangers. This means someone on your email list is far more likely to buy an affiliate product from you than just a casual blog reader. So, it makes logical sense that the more casual readers you can convert into email subscribers, and the better you nurture them (for example with a well-crafted welcome sequence), the more affiliate products you will sell. This would be true even if you never mentioned a single affiliate product in your emails!
But of course, you absolutely can and should mention your affiliate links in your emails – and this is the second way that email marketing can help you make affiliate sales. You can do this by casually mentioning affiliate links in your regular newsletters, as and when appropriate/logical. But you can turbo charge your affiliate marketing by essentially treating your affiliate product like your own product and building out an entire sales funnel dedicated to getting your subscribers to buy this thing you recommend.
Now obviously, it only makes sense to build an entire sales funnel for an affiliate product where the commission is really good and/or recurring. But if you are an affiliate for a really well-paying affiliate programme then this can be a really lucrative strategy!
Of course, I really should point out that you need to be careful when it comes to affiliate marketing via email, not to abuse or destroy the trust of your audience by trying to ‘hard sell’ an affiliate product, but if – as with your affiliate blog posts – you take the tone of just trying to be genuinely helpful to your readers, and you only ever recommend products you personally use and really believe in, this should not be a problem.
READ MORE >>> A beginner’s guide to email marketing for bloggers
READ MORE >>> How to make money from your email list
12. Put affiliate links in your freebies
We all know that the best way to get people on to your email list is via an opt-in offer (AKA lead magnet / content upgrade)… but have you ever stopped to consider that you can actually monetise the opt-in offers themselves?
There is absolutely nothing to stop you from adding your affiliate links into your freebies (well, unless the affiliate scheme specifically prohibits it – do check!)
Adding appropriate affiliate links into an opt-in freebie can be a really great way to boost your affiliate income.
Remember, people who download your opt-in freebies are more engaged than casual readers on your blog and so are more likely to respond positively to your recommendations. People who download your freebies are also on your email list, so you have a chance to nurture them. AND people who download your freebies clearly have a problem they need solving, so are in more of a purchasing mindset than a casual reader.
13. Put affiliate links in your paid products
And don’t stop at your freebies! You can absolutely put affiliate links into your paid products – such as ebooks and courses, so long as you do this sensibly and sensitively.
If you follow the principle of making your affiliate links an extension of the help you are giving your readers/customers, you won’t go far wrong.
For example, I have a course which teaches beginner bloggers how to start a successful and profitable blog. In that course I have naturally used lots of affiliate links. My primary purpose here is not to make lots of extra money off my customers, but rather to link to lots of helpful resources that may be useful to beginner bloggers… and I am careful to only recommend products and services I feel beginner bloggers would actually need (and I link to lots of free resources too!) However, if I am linking to helpful resources that I am also an affiliate for, I would be mad not to use my affiliate link!
14. Create a resource guide
Another really great way to maximise your affiliate revenue is by creating a resource guide on your website. This is basically a list of all the resources you use and recommend in your particular niche and an explanation about why you recommend those things.
For example, say you blog about wildlife photography. You might produce a resource guide sharing all the kit you use and recommend for wildlife photography.
You would then include links to all the products you recommend, and if you are an affiliate for that product, you would use your affiliate link.
Resource guides are great because they are something that new readers on your site actively look for – there’s a natural curiosity about wanting to know what kit someone uses.
And resource guides are also great as you can then link TO your resource guide FROM other posts on your website (as well as from social media, email etc.)
You should also create a link from your homepage and/or menu bar to your resource guide to make it easy for your readers to find.
For an example of a resource guide, see my guide to the best blogging tools to increase your productivity and traffic
15. Create gift guides
Another brilliant opportunity to make money on your blog from affiliate links is gift guides! If there is one time when people are most definitely in the buying mood AND when they are also desperate for help, it is when they have to buy a gift for someone!
You can create gift guides related to your niche and various different holidays and occasions. For example:
- 20 perfect Valentine’s gifts for foodies
- 101 gifts new parents REALLY want
- What to buy a keen gardener for their birthday
- 40 puuurfect gift ideas for cat lovers (sorry!)
To see an example of a gift guide, check out this one: What to buy a blogger for Christmas
Make sure that you include your affiliate links where appropriate in your gift guides. And don’t forget to ask your readers to share your gift guide with their friends and relatives – after all, you are kind of doing them a favour as you have personally curated a whole bunch of things that they would actually like to receive as a gift!
16. Make an ‘affiliate links’ page
If you do affiliate marketing well, you will find your readers actively start asking for your affiliate links. To help you and them find your affiliate links more easily, consider creating an ‘affiliate links’ page on your website which simply lists all your affiliate links.
You can see mine here: Productive Blogging Affiliate Links
17. Monitor and do more of what works
Perhaps the biggest tip I can give you here is to try all of these strategies out, then monitor how well they perform and do more of what works!
For example, perhaps you try creating ‘how to’ posts, ‘roundup’ posts, resource guides and gift guides and you find that it is your gift guides that really fly – then do more gift guides!
Likewise, if you try promoting your affiliate link posts on social media, Pinterest and email, and you find that Pinterest drives incredible traffic to your affiliate post and results in lots of affiliate sales – make more pins!
18. Don’t sacrifice quality and value for affiliate links
But now a little caveat to all of this: don’t sacrifice quality and value for affiliate links.
Above all, if you want to make a success of affiliate marketing, you must deliver high quality, valuable content to your readers: content that helps them, solves their problems and guides them naturally to the source of more help (your affiliate links!).
If you consistently deliver high quality, valuable content that truly helps your readers, they will learn to trust you and happily click on your affiliate links and buy the products you recommend – precisely because they do trust you and because you have been so helpful. (I often get people actually asking for my affiliate links, precisely because they want me to get the commission, because I have helped them so much!)
However, if your content is low quality, stuffed with affiliate links and doesn’t really help your readers with their problems, your readers are very unlikely to trust you and nor are they likely to stick around long on your website. Ultimately this means few clicks on your affiliate links and even fewer affiliate sales!
19. Keep it legal!
And finally, my last tip is to keep it legal! You won’t make money from affiliate links if you break advertising rules, annoy Google or break the affiliate programmes’ terms of service.
Here are the 3 main things you should focus on:
- Make sure you properly disclose your affiliate links – This is important so you don’t break advertising rules, but it’s also important that you are honest with your readers – they will trust you MORE if you are honest about affiliate links on your site.
- Make sure you make all your affiliate links NO FOLLOW – this is required by Google and failure to do this could negatively affect your SEO.
- Make sure you read and abide by the affiliate programmes’ terms of service – if you don’t you could get kicked out of an affiliate programme. For example, check to see if you can promote your affiliate link in email marketing. (Not all programmes let you do this, most notably Amazon.)
Over to you…
I’d love to hear from you! What are your best tips for increasing your affiliate income? How have you increased affiliate income from your blog? Let me know in the comments below!
- How do blogs make money?
- A beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing for bloggers
- How to manage, organize and track your affiliate links (without expensive software!)
- 14 reasons why your blog isn’t making money (and what to do about it!)
- How to turn your blog into a profitable business
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Hi Eb, I love this post, I’ve gotten so many helpful ideas from this one post that I can’t wait to start putting them all into practice. I wasn’t aware that affiliate links need to be setup as no-follow so that’s one of the first things I need to get on top of. Thanks for bringing that important note to my attention.
Aw, that’s so good to hear Scott! Let me know how you get on 😀
So do links work better than banners for affiliate marketing? I used to do more banners and lately been doing more of the links. Thanks for this very informative piece. I found you over on Instagram 🙂
In my experience yes. A blog post which helps your audience and leads naturally on to getting the affiliate product as the ‘next step’ is much more likely to be effective than a banner. It’s worth thinking about your own behaviour too – how often do you click on banners, compared to links? Personally I rarely click on any kind of banner, but I click on links all the time – especially if someone has given me a really compelling reason to do so in the rest of the blog post! Lovely to connect with you here too 😀