Thinking about starting a blog? Better yet, thinking about affiliate marketing with a blog? It's a great opportunity to grow an audience, build a relationship with them and earn a side income by promoting affiliate offers in a variety of ways.
In this definitive guide to affiliate marketing with a blog you'll discover an effective plan of action and checklist for building your blog and maximizing your affiliate sales.
What is Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Marketing is a simple business model by which you earn commissions (a percentage of money earned from a sale) for promoting other people's products or services.
It's one of the easiest, fastest and newbie-friendly ways to start earning an income online.
You don't need to create any product yourself... you don't have to worry about dealing with payments, refunds, customer support and such.
The way affiliate marketing works is also quite simple... Once you sign-up to be an affiliate marketer for a product, you'll receive an affiliate link which has an ID that is unique to you.
You then use this affiliate link to promote the product or service. If someone clicks on your link and purchases the product or service, you earn a commission.
Some interesting statistics about affiliate marketing...
What is A Blog
The classic definition of a blog - a discussion, journal or informational website that typically displays information in the reverse chronological order, with the latest posts appearing first, at the top.
A more contemporary and simple definition is that a blog is a regularly updated section of a website. You'll usually see a link to the blog in a website's header.
Updates to the blog are done by adding blog posts. A blog post is an individual webpage on your website that provides information on a particular sub-topic of your blog.
Do You Need A Blog (Or Website) For Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing can be done without the need to build your own website or a blog... But it's not the best approach.
Without a website or blog you'll typically have to post your affiliate links on other websites, and when visitors click on your affiliate links you'll be sending them straight to the merchant's website.
What happens thereafter, is straightforward - if the visitor makes a sale, you earn a commission... great! And if they don't buy anything, you don't earn any commission.
Having your own website allows you to capture information about your visitors, like their email addresses, and you are then able to follow up with them, which if done right helps to increase the chance they'll purchase what you're promoting.
But it also allows you to continue to send them emails promoting other affiliate offers, thereby earning additional revenue.
Other advantages of having your own website and blog... it's a great way to communicate with your audience, showcase your affiliate offers, post viral content, develop your reputation in your niche, and get traffic from search engines.
Best Blog Niche For Affiliate Marketing
You can think of a niche as a group of people with similar interest in a particular topic. For example, people interested in learning about golfing or in forex trading are niches.
These are the people you'll be marketing to, providing useful information to, and recommending products to... and when they buy, you'll earn commissions!
You can blog about anything. But when you intend to use the blog for affiliate marketing, there are 2 main criteria for choosing your niche, and these are especially important if you plan to earn a substantial income from your blog.
- Firstly, you must choose a profitable niche.
- Secondly, it helps if it's a niche that you are personally interested in
There are steps you can take to choose a niche for affiliate marketing that best suits you. If after following those steps you're still unsure of what niche to get into, consider that niches within the Sex, Health and Wealth markets have proven to be, and continue to be very profitable.
Once, you've decided on your niche, you should go ahead and research affiliate marketing offers to promote.
Best Blogging Platform for Affiliate Marketing
There are several options in terms of blogging platforms. Some of the more popular ones include WordPress, Blogger, Wix, Medium and SquareSpace.
I recommend using WordPress. WordPress is a software for building websites, blogs and managing content. It is probably the easiest to use, the most popular, the most versatile, and the most powerful one available today.... and it's free.
The next step is to actually create your affiliate marketing blog.
How to Create a Blog for Affiliate Marketing
Here are essentially 3 steps in creating your blog:
- Choose and register a domain name
- Get webhosting
- Install the blogging platform on your domain
Step 1 - Choose and Register a domain name
The first thing you want to do is brainstorm some possible domain names for your website... here are a couple quick tips:
It's preferable to go with a ".com" extension, rather than other extensions, such as ".net" or ".org".
Choose a domain name that relates to the niche you’ve chosen and one that your audience can remember easily. Ideally, the domain should have the niche keywords in the name.
Here are a few templates to start brainstorming:
[niche name]Guide.com (e.g., dogtrainingguide.com)
Once you've brainstormed a few names, use the search tools at domain name registrars such as Namecheap, which offers a hassle-free platform to find out what domain names are available and to register your preferred name.
Step 2 - Get Webhosting
You'll want to get a solid webhost... do not compromise on this!
I use SiteGround to host my websites and I am extremely satisfied with them... I also recommend them to my clients for their websites.
I have tried other webhosts but I've had problems with websites being hacked and unacceptable customer support. I've had no problems with SiteGround so far, and there customer service is quite responsive, friendly and effective.
Once you’ve created a hosting account at SiteGround, then your next step is to log into your account where you registered your domain name and change your domain name servers to point to your hosting account. That way your website will show up when people type in your domain name (although it may take a few days for the domain to propagate all over the world).
If you chose SiteGround, they would have have sent you an email that includes your domain name server (DNS) information. If not, contact their support.
Step 3 - Install WordPress on your domain
There is a good chance that whichever webhost you go with, your webhosting dashboard includes a “one click” installation for WordPress. That is one very quick and easy to install WordPress on your website.
To go through the steps for installing WordPress on your website, you can simply follow SiteGround's WordPress Guide.
Best WordPress Theme for Affiliate Marketing Blogs
The WordPress theme basically controls the way your site looks.... and there are thousands upon thousands of themes for WordPress.
But how do you go about choosing the best theme for your affiliate marketing blog?
What you should focus on is having a conversion-focused theme. What do I mean by this?...
Conversion is basically getting people that visit your site to take specific actions, such as click a specific link, or sign-up to your email list, or purchase the product that you are promoting.
So, a conversion-focused theme is one that is designed to get you those conversions.
I have found that the people that produce the best themes and plugins for conversions is ThriveThemes. I use their full suite of plugins to create all my websites and my clients' websites.
With their Thrive Theme Builder you can build, edit and customize every aspect of your WordPress website in WYSIWYG fashion very easily and quickly.
Best Blog Topics and Content for Affiliate Marketing
The next step is to create content on your blog...
But before we talk about that, let's quickly look at the (recommended) structure of a typical affiliate marketing website and first ensure that the "must-have" pages of your website are created - the homepage and the legal pages.
Homepage - this is the "front page" of your website. Here's what you'd want to place on your homepage:
- tell people what makes your site unique,
- something that adds to the credibility and authority of your site,
- links to your recommended resources and Pillar Posts (more on this shortly),
- a way for people to provide you with their name and email addresses.
This Homepage Case-study by ThriveThemes outlines exactly what to put on your homepage and how to lay them out.
Now, let's get back to your blog...
The posts that you put on your blog can be considered to fall into 2 main categories of posts - Pillar Posts and Ongoing Posts.
Pillar Posts - for any niche that you get into, there is going to be particular issues within the niche that are considered as "essential" or "core" issues.
You create pillar posts by taking one of these core issues and writing about it in great detail. Another way to think of pillar posts is that they are guides about the particular core issues... it's about providing a lot of value to your visitor in one post.
It's one of the post you'll want to link to from your homepage, as I mentioned earlier.
Ongoing Blog Posts - These are the posts you'll be writing and uploading onto your blog on a regular schedule, perhaps once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month.
Let's take a look at the kind of content you can create for these ongoing blog posts...
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How To Monetize A Blog With Affiliate Marketing
The purpose of your affiliate blog is to inform (and/or entertain) and make money.
In order to make money, you've got to monetize your blog... Here are some ways to get that done:
Soft Selling Within Blog Posts
The idea here is to post content and then drop a recommendation directly into the content. This isn’t a hard sell like a direct advertisement. Instead, it’s more like a gentle recommendation from a friend.
Present a “Featured Product”
The idea here is to create a special section of your blog and present a weekly featured product. Here’s how to make this feature more effective for generating sales:
Insert Ads Around The Content
Another way to monetize your blog is by inserting text and/or graphical ads around the content. Here are good places to do it:
Building An Email List for Your Affiliate Marketing Blog
Having an email list of subscribers (a mailing list) should be one of your top priorities as an affiliate marketer. Email marketing continues to be one of the best ways to keep in touch with your audience... and it's a very valuable asset.
Once you gotten people on your list, you'll want to build relationships with them and promote affiliate offers.
To build your list, you essentially need three things:
- A Lead Magnet - this is something that you can give away to your visitors in exchange for their email address. It can take many forms, such a short report, an e-course, a checklist or a cheat sheet.
- A Lead Capture Page - this is a page that persuades prospects to give you their email in exchange for the lead magnet. Thrive Leads makes it particularly easy to quickly create professional-looking conversion-focused lead pages.
- An Autoresponder Series - this is a series of emails that you’ll use to welcome people to your list, start building a relationship and presell the initial product that you’re promoting. To get your emails out to your subscribers, you'll need an email marketing service such as GetResponse.
To dive deeper into list building and email marketing, you can check out the List Building As Easy As 1-2-3 course.
Get Traffic For Your Affiliate Marketing Blog
Once you've got everything set up, it's time to get traffic to your blog. If you don’t have traffic coming to your blog, and in particular targeted traffic, then you’re going to be hurting for affiliate sales.
What's targeted traffic?... simple put, it means people that are actually interested in what you're affiliate blog is about. If they are interested, there's a higher chance that they'll be engaged in your content, subscribe to your mailing list and click through to the affiliate offers you're promoting.
To learn more about the different traffic sources for affiliate marketing and how to start getting traffic to your blog, read my Introduction to Traffic Sources For Affiliate Marketing.
Ready to Get Started With Your Own Blog For Affiliate Marketing?
There you have it!... a definitive plan of action for affiliate marketing with a blog.
Have any questions about how to get up and running with affiliate marketing and blogging? Leave them for me in the comments section below!