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August 17, 2019

Is Affiliate Marketing a Good Way to Make Money on Your Blog?

You’ve started a blog, got a little traffic and now you’re looking to make some money.

Is affiliate marketing the way to make money from it? How much money can you make by selling affiliate products? Is affiliate marketing better or worse than selling ads?

In this post, I’ll go over the pros and cons of affiliate marketing. Plus, we’ll get into exactly how much you can expect to make from selling affiliate products.

How Long Do Affiliate Programs Last?

The biggest problem with selling affiliate products is that the offers will disappear someday.

Don’t believe me? Check out what happened to the apple app store affiliate program. Or check out when Amazon cut its affiliate program payouts in HALF! There are countless examples of this happening over and over again.

Average amazon affiliate commission.

Many people based their entire blog or YouTube channels around an affiliate program. Only to watch their business get destroyed overnight when that program disappeared or cut back.

How it feels when your affiliate program shuts down.

A day like that is one that you’ll desperately want to avoid as a business owner. This is why I do not recommend that you use affiliate sales as your primary monetization strategy even though I’m very much in favor of selling affiliate products on your blog.

Do NOT Create Content Solely For Affiliate Programs

Creating a piece of content solely to sell an affiliate product is the mini-version of basing your entire business on a single affiliate offer. It’s not a great idea.

Many blogs and YouTube channels review products solely to earn affiliate commissions. You can certainly make a quick buck by doing this. But, when that affiliate program ends, or the product becomes outdated, your content is now worthless.

Examples of youtube videos created only to sell affiliate products to you.

As a business owner, you want your content to appreciate in value over time. Not quickly depreciate towards worthlessness. By creating content solely to sell an affiliate product, you’re guaranteeing the latter will happen.

Unless you’re iJustine and the affiliate program is making you beyond rich in the short term, it’s not worth doing this. Make sure your content has value to your business beyond quick affiliate sales.

Treat Affiliate Income as Bonus Money, Not Your Primary Income Model

For example, I recently wrote a post on how to setup Gmail with a custom domain name for free. I wrote that post because I believed it could bring in a lot of traffic to this website. Traffic that might want to buy my core offer.

That said, I definitely included my affiliate link to GSuite in that post. I did that because I was talking about GSuite in the post regardless, so why not get paid for it?

At the end of the day, any money I make from that affiliate link is bonus money. If Google cancels its affiliate program, the traffic coming in is still quite valuable to me as they’ll continue to buy my core offer.

Use High Paying Affiliate Offers

Some affiliate programs are better than others.

The most popular affiliate program is the Amazon Associates program. This is because Amazon sells practically everything, so it’s an excellent fit for most blogs regardless of niche.

weird stuff that's sold on amazon.

That said, as of 2019 Amazon is only paying out 4% on anything sold within 24 hours of clicking your link. So to earn $100, you’d have to sell $2,500 worth of Amazon products within 24 hours.

That’s a minuscule payout. And a cookie that disappears way too fast. A large percentage of people are going to click your link then come back and buy 1+ days later. You’ll get nothing for those sales.

Visual describing how it takes people a few days to actually purchase something.

Compare that to Clickfunnels. ClickFunnels is a piece of software that enables you to offer 1 click upsells and downsells. As of this writing, a single ClickFunnels sale will make you $40/m until that user unsubscribes. And their cookie lasts forever.

To make $40 on Amazon, you’d have to sell $1,000 worth of goods within 24 hours of the link click.

Try to find an affiliate product that fits your niche and pays better than Amazon. You’ll be happy you did.

How Do I Find High Paying Affiliate Products?

There are a surprising number of high paying affiliate programs out there. More products than you think have an affiliate offer.

After you’ve written your content type “Product name + affiliate program” into Google. Do this for any product you mentioned in your blog post. An affiliate product will show up more often than you’d expect.

google results showing a sony affiliate program link.

I’d recommend you only use affiliate products you were going to link to either way. But, if you’re going to ignore that advice and want to try to find the highest price offer. I would search through an affiliate network like Share-a-Sale for the highest paying offer. Or I’d start Googling “highest paying affiliate offers” and begin your search for high paying offers that way.

Affiliate Program Examples

Here are a few affiliate programs that I like. I like them because they’re products I’ve actually used before and had a good experience with. Some of their commissions pay quite well, some do not.

  • Bluehost pays $65 for each signup.
  • SkillShare pays $10 for every user you sign up.
  • Grammarly pays $25 for you to sign up. Then 20 cents per free user you sign up and $20 for each premium subscription sold.
  • GSuite pays $15 per user signed up. And even more for business users.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud pays 85% of the first month. About $6-$60 per sign up depending on the plan.
  • Tailwind pays 15% of the sale price. If a user signs up for a year, you’ll make $18.
  • Clickfunnels pays $38/m until the user unsubscribes.

This is a small list of software that I enjoy and happens to have affiliate offers. The true list of affiliate programs is much broader than this.

If you’re in a different niche, there are plenty of other options.

The number of affiliate programs out there is massive. No matter your niche, there’s an affiliate program out there that pays quite well. You just have to look for a good match.

How Much Can You Make From Selling Affiliate Products? More Than Ads?

I don’t recommend you monetize with ads. Ads will likely only pay between $2-$30 in revenue per 1000 page views (RPM).

But, how much do affiliate programs pay in comparison to this?

Determining how much an affiliate program pays on an RPM basis is very difficult. The numbers vary wildly based on the payout structure of the affiliate program and your website’s conversion rates. And conversion rates vary wildly based on how relevant your content is to the offer.

But, let’s try to input some realistic numbers into some real programs. From this, we should get a rough estimate of what you can make from affiliate marketing.

With the Amazon Associates program. We know it pays 4% on sales. If you were getting a 0.5% conversion rate to a $50 product, you’d make $10 for every 1,000 page views($10 RPM). That is very much in the same ballpark as what ads pay.

visual showing ads compared to amazon affiliate program.

But, that’s a very low-end affiliate offer. What if we swap it out with Clickfunnels where you get $40 per month per signup?

If you had a 0.1% conversion rate for ClickFunnels, your RPM would be $40 x the average number of months a user stays subscribed. If the average amount of time a user signs up is 5 months, your RPM would be $200.

A $200 RPM CRUSHES ads. Heck, even a $40 RPM crushes ads. A $200 RPM is closer to what you might hope to make by selling your own products.

visual showing ads compared to clickfunnels affiliate program on an RPM basis.

So yes, if you find a high paying affiliate offer that matches your content, you can make a lot of money from it. I’d expect high paying affiliate offers to pay much more than ads do.

And don’t forget, if you didn’t create content specifically to sell the affiliate product this is BONUS MONEY. You don’t have to choose affiliate marketing OR creating your own product. You don’t even have to choose affiliate products OR ads. You can do both at the same time.

That’s what makes affiliate marketing an excellent income strategy. If done well your users will hardly even know it’s there and you’ll be making a lot of money from it.

Don’t Sign Up For Affiliate Programs Until You Have Traffic

Many beginners will sign up for affiliate programs before they have any traffic. This may prove to be a big waste of your time.

For example, even if you had an RPM of $200 from your affiliate product. If you’re only getting 30 visitors a month, is the $6 per month you’re leaving on the table worth signing up? And most affiliate programs don’t pay nearly that well.

It may not be worth your time to sign up for these affiliate programs until you have more traffic. Focus on creating more content. Sign up for these programs once you have hundreds or thousands of targeted visitors per month.

Remember to Include an Affiliate Disclosure

Affiliate link disclosures are an FTC-mandated practice. Play by the rules and make sure you’re disclosing to your viewership that you have affiliate links in your content.

an example of an affiliate disclosure statement.

Don’t Spam Your Affiliate Links on Social Media

I know the urge to make money is strong. But you’re not setting yourself up for long term success if you’re resorting to spam. For example, it’s short-sighted to create Pinterest Pins with a direct link to your affiliate offer. Or other shady practices.

Other people do it, and it works to some degree, or else they wouldn’t bother. But it’s not the path to the long term sustainable business that you want.

That content takes time to create and will disappear one day soon. It’s a depreciating asset. Plus, it carries the risk of getting your accounts banned and landing you in a worse place than you started.

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing isn’t a great primary monetization strategy. But, you should definitely use it as a PIECE of your overall monetization strategy.

If you’re affiliate marketing correctly, you’re simply connecting users with the products and services they’re already looking for. Your users will thank you for it and you’ll make as much more more than you did from ads. Plus, it doesn’t hurt UX or bog down your site as ads do.

In that scenario, everybody wins from affiliate marketing.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if I missed anything in the comments.

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