It’s never too soon to start monetizing your content with affiliate marketing. You just never know when a piece of content might go viral and send boatloads of traffic your way.
That’s exactly what happened to Gee at My Online Biz Journey, who once told me that one of her biggest blogging regrets was not monetizing with affiliate links from day one.
After blogging for 2 years, Gee still didn’t think it was time to monetize her blog at only 5,000 pageviews a month. “When my site's a little bigger” she thought. Then without warning, one of her posts went viral on Pinterest and now she’s consistently getting over 50,000 pageviews a month. While she's thrilled her hard work is paying off, she's now working overtime to optimize older content so she can finally start profiting from her wise words.
If you want to avoid leaving money on the table with your content – and doing double the work later on – I highly encourage you to start experimenting with affiliate marketing.
Hold up, What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is simply a partnership between a publisher (i.e. bloggers, content creators) and a merchant (i.e. product companies, course creators). When they partner up, the publisher promotes the merchant’s product in their content using a unique tracking link. If someone clicks on the link and takes the merchant’s desired action (i.e. free trial, product purchase), the publisher gets a commission.
Sounds pretty sweet, right?
And it is. As someone who’s spent the last four years managing affiliate programs, I’ve seen bloggers making anywhere from coffee money to vacation money to mansion money each month with their affiliate marketing efforts.
But I’ve also seen people making critical mistakes, or give up after barely trying. And I’ve been told it’s not worth doing because “my favorite expert said there are more profitable ways to spend my time”.
Which is why some folks have a negative idea of affiliate marketing. Before we go any further, I want to take some time to address those concerns by debunking a few myths:
Myth #1 – You need a high traffic blog to get started
Fearful people, listen up. Unlike advertising networks, you will not be rejected when applying to an affiliate network or program based on how many pageviews your site currently gets. I’ve processed thousands of applications and that’s never, ever been a factor. As long as your site looks presentable and you’ve got some content related to the program you’re applying to, you’ll get approved most of the time.
For more help, see how you can always get approved with my Affiliate Application Guide.
Myth #2 – There are better monetization methods out there
Don’t let 6-Figure Bloggers suck you in with their advice to focus on “smarter” or “safer” monetization methods like online courses or freelance work. Maybe they had better experience with one thing over another, but they are not you. You are in a different niche or at a different place – probably both.
If anyone tells you that method A is better than method B, or method X is better than method Y… run! The smartest and safest move you can make when monetizing your blog is to diversify your income streams.
Read that line again and let it sink in.
That’s why affiliate marketing is so great. I would never suggest you rely on it as your only income source or tell you it’s better than all the rest.
But it’s a fantastic way to create multiple streams of income so if another source – i.e. freelance work, course sales, advertising income – ever dries up, you’ll have some passive income in your bank to keep you afloat.
Myth #3 – It’s a sleazy way to earn a living
Would you stop riding the bus altogether because one dude hasn’t heard of deodorant? Or stop buying vitamins because of that one time you got talked into a new brand that tasted like feet?
No. You might change things up – like catch a later bus or buy a different vitamin brand – but you wouldn’t think badly of buses or vitamins because of that one experience.
The same thinking applies to affiliate marketing. Just because there are a few people out there doing sleazy things – i.e. promoting products they’ve never used or gaming the system so the merchant pays for bad sales – doesn’t mean you should avoid it altogether.
As long as you’re promoting products you stand behind and putting your audience first, earning from affiliate marketing will never feel sleazy or gross.
Myth #4 – You need a big following or email list to make money
Absolutely false. I’ve worked with publishers of all sizes and bigger isn’t necessarily better. Often smaller bloggers have more engagement from their audience compared to their larger counterparts. If you need further “tiny list” inspiration, check out the affiliate stories of Rachel Luna and Adrienne Dorison.
If you don’t have any followers or email subscribers, you have plenty of options too. As I said before, it’s never too soon to start monetizing your content with affiliate marketing – even with your very first post.
Today, I’d like to walk you through an affiliate tactic that helps bloggers earn commissions through their content fairly quickly – regardless of audience size.
Enter Instructional Affiliate Content
You create instructional content by delivering important “how-to” steps or tips that help your audience achieve something. When you incorporate affiliate products into the mix, you get Instructional Affiliate Content.
Instructional Affiliate Content is awesome because:
- You’re using the affiliate product to educate people – less selling and more teaching
- They’re easy and fun to create – no more procrastinating on creating new content
- As long as you optimize your posts for SEO, you’ll gain search traffic and commissions
- You can take advantage of this tactic at any blog level – established and beginner bloggers are welcome!
- It prompts readers to take action – including buying what you’re mentioning
Want one more reason to love affiliate tutorials?
You can deliver your tutorial in any way you want. I’ve seen content creators roll out instructional affiliate content in the following formats:
- Blog post
Some savvy creators even combine some of these formats to really knock the socks off their people.
So go-getters, ready to give instructional affiliate content a shot? Great!
5 Ideas For Instructional Affiliate Content
1. Demo Key Affiliate Product Features
This is probably the most common instructional content you can create so let’s get it out of the way first. What you will do is simply demonstrate some key features of the product. This works really well in the digital product space but can certainly be done with physical goods as well.
Since many companies have basic product tutorials available to customers, make yours stand out by getting creative with the delivery format (think webinars, screencasts, and visuals) and infusing your personality or personal experience in.
- How To Set Up Shipping In Your Shopify Store
- 3 Life-Changing Vitamix Features You Don’t Use
- The Complete Guide to ConvertKit Automations
Here’s Carrie Smith from Careful Cents using this type of instructional affiliate content to promote FreshBooks, an accounting software she’s an affiliate for. In this post, she helps her audience see the benefit of the software by highlighting 8 key features she knows they’ll love.
2. Show How To Use The Affiliate Product In Multiple Ways
Go against the grain by creating content that shows people how to use the affiliate product in more than one way. Besides being super fun to create, this content style will really maximize your potential earnings since you’re appealing to more than one buyer type. For example:
- someone who just wants to buy a casual skirt
- someone who wants to wear a casual skirt to work
- someone who wants to dress up a casual skirt for a wedding
You get the idea!
- 5 Uses For Mascara That’ll Blow Your Mind
- 3 Simple Adobe Photoshop Hacks You Need To Do Now
- 15 Mind-Blowing Recipes For Your New Crockpot
Audrey often uses this type of instructional affiliate content on her fashion blog, Putting Me Together. In this particular post, she uses a Utility Jacket (aka the affiliate product) and offers her readers not two, not four, but six incredible ways to style it for Spring. Pretty neat, right?
3. Share Results You Got With The Affiliate Product(s)
If an affiliate product has made a positive impact on your life, business or blog, this is the type of content you’ll want to create. Stories are powerful motivators so dig down deep to highlight the benefits you’ve personally seen as a result of using the product.
- How I Tripled My Blog Traffic Using BoardBooster
- My Weight Loss Story: How One Spiralizer Helped Me Shed 50 Pounds
- The Secret Tool I Use To Create Stunning Stock Photography
Anyone eager to get their family out of debt will be highly motivated to follow the tips found in this post by Amy Lynn Andrews – including trying the affiliate products that helped her along the way.
4. Show How To Create Something With The Affiliate Products
What you’ll do here is think up something really cool you can make with the affiliate product, and then walk people step-by-step through that creation process. These tutorial-style posts are a blast to put together, especially if you can come up with a unique angle few have done before.
As an added bonus, this type of content really sells the product for you – without you having to shout buy this now – since readers who want to make that cool thing will also need the affiliate product that made it all possible.
- How To Make The Perfect Video Backdrop
- 3 Easy Ways To Make A Handmade Scarf
- The Complete Guide To Designing Terrariums
Look at these purdy gemstone soaps from Savannah Wallace via A Beautiful Mess! After reading this piece of instructional affiliate content, how could any crafty person resist clicking over to Amazon for #allthethings needed to create them? I’m seriously making these for holiday gifts!
5. Help People Get Started With The Affiliate Product
Not everyone is ready for advanced training related to the affiliate product you’re promoting. Some people may know they need it, but haven’t taken the plunge because they don’t know where to start.
That’s where you, a la instructional affiliate content, come in.
Rewind your mind back to the time when you first started using the product you’re an affiliate for. How did you get into it? What were the steps you took? Put pen to paper (digitally!) and create a helpful “getting started” tutorial that transforms your reader from Hesitant Harriet to Hell Yes Harriet.
- How to Start Wearing White After Labor Day
- The Beginner’s Guide To You Need A Budget
- 5 Steps to White Teeth with Crest Whitestrips
Check out Jessica Safko from Love Plus Color using this type of instructional affiliate content to help her readers get started with Adobe Illustrator. I dig how she goes deep with over 1500 words of goodness, while still framing all the how-to content with a total beginner in mind.
- Affiliate marketing – when done right – is awesome
- Create instructional affiliate content to convert readers into buyers
- There’s never going to be the perfect time to start monetizing your blog with affiliate marketing. The time to start experimenting is now.
If you like this post, the ideas shared today are just the tip of the iceberg. For more, check out 31 Ways To Experiment and Profit With Affiliate Links.
BIO: Justine Grey empowers eCommerce entrepreneurs and content creators to grow their revenue with affiliate marketing. Join thousands in her AffiliateAce community for doable affiliate experiments and action tips.