I get a lot of emails from those new to blog monetization asking for recommendations for affiliate marketing programs for beginners. What you should promote will be dependent on your niche for sure, but there are a few favorites that cross boundaries. Today, we are talking about a few of my favorites and some tips for promoting those links.
Ebates is a fan favorite. Even though they have been around for years, a lot of people still aren't using it. And it's easy money. Who doesn't love that? Because it crosses so many industries, it can be an easy program to promote. Even if you aren't in the save money/make money industries, if you are talking about your organizing your office or trip to Jamaica it's an easy mention. “Don't forget to stop by Ebates first to get 8% back on your The Container Store purchase” or “Get 12% back this week when you book your Hilton stay through Ebates.” Bonus points: Ebates gives people an extra $10 when they sign up and make their first purchase. And you get $15! (Plus bonuses.)
Ibotta is another program loved by many. If you have a mom-centered audience, start working it into your rotation. Everybody has to buy groceries and very few like clipping coupons. Ibotta is like grocery rebates in your phone. And these offers pay in cash. Is a simple opportunity. Ibotta just sent an email to influencers today saying May was historically their best month for new people signing up as school is getting out and moms are looking to stretch that budget. Bonus: Your referrals get a $10 welcome bonus when they sign up and redeem their first offer and you earn $5.
Acorns is a micro-investing platform making a great new opportunity for those in the save money/make money niches. Acorns allows people to invest as little as $5 at a time and/or link up a debit or credit card and Acorns will roundup those purchases investing when you reach $5. They recently added a “Later” program which allows for IRA investments as well. It's an easy way to start saving for a rainy day. And the referral program isn't too shabby either! Earn $5 for every referral. Acorns will also give your friend their first $5 to invest. Why pass that up? Even better, because this is a new platform looking to grow its userbase they have been running some really lucrative referral bonuses. Some months have been, for example, “refer 12 people and get a $1000 bonus.” Other months have been “refer 5 people and split a $100,000 pot.” Definitely numbers small enough for everyone to play. Take advantage of it while you can.
Referral programs vs. Affiliate programs
The three above examples are “referral” programs. That means you become a user of the platform yourself and they add more money to your account as you refer your friends. (Look for the refer-a-friend link on your dashboard.) These can often be more lucrative than their affiliate program counterparts and they are offered by so many companies these days.
The above three give you cash, but many merchants give you store credit. Examples of those would be Stitch Fix, thredUP, Zulily, The Honest Company and more. Whether those would be worth it to you will be dependent on how much you shop there. Stitch Fix will give you up to $600 a year in referral credit. That's $600 worth of clothes that I don't have to pay for. That's worth it to me. Once I hit that $600 mark, I switch out the link for their Commission Junction affiliate link so I am still earning on any signups after I hit their referral threshold.
That leads us into affiliate programs. With these you often don't need to be a customer or user. Though that's going to help you sell, of course! Some companies have self-hosted affiliate programs, but many go through networks.
Amazon is always a good choice for those looking to get into affiliate marketing. It is a well-known and trusted merchant and let's not forget they carry almost everything under the sun. Many of the cookies are only 24 hours and the commission is usually 1% to 10% depending on the product. But, people usually buy so much more than the one thing you are recommending. One holiday season, a person clicked on a link to a book I had mentioned on my site and bought a $1,900 engagement ring with it. At 7% commission on jewelry, that one sale earned me over $130. And I don't even promote jewelry! Amazon also pays a flat fee bounty on several of their verticals such as Amazon Video, baby registry, Audible, Prime and more.
ShareASale is an affiliate network with a lot of quality merchants in a wide variety of niches. I have been with the network for years and they have always paid me on time. You can see some of their merchants here and they also share new and notable merchants frequently on their blog.
Ultimate Bundles is a trusted affiliate program paying affiliates 40% commission on sales (70% commission if you are a contributor). They put together a “bundle” of eProducts several times per year that focus on a particular niche. Ex. blogging, homemaking, healthy living, herbs & oils, working at home and more. These bundles usually cost just $20 to $40 but include thousands of dollars worth of products and bonuses. That's a great value your audience is sure to appreciate.
How do I know what to promote?
It works for me & I've used it myself. It's really hard to promote something you haven't personally used and loved. A good example of this for me would be FlexJobs. I get a lot of questions about this program. If someone asks me where to find something in the dashboard, I can tell them. If they tell me they aren't finding ANY jobs to apply to, I can provide them with a list of steps that may change that. If they ask me if I pay for a membership myself, I can, with 100% honesty, say YES.
That's why I always recommend bloggers new to affiliate marketing to first take a look around their own life for things to promote. What little things have made a big difference in your life? What things do you pay for that are related to your niche? Those are the things you can sell with 100% transparency and honesty.
Be trustworthy. The last thing you want is to get caught in a lie if someone asks you something about navigation of a dashboard or how the pricing of something works and you have to tell them you have no idea because you really don't use it. You are only promoting it because of the big payout.
Where do I promote my links?
Mention it in a blog post. A lot of bloggers get great initial results by working backward. Make a list of your top 5 or 10 blog posts. What things would be a natural fit in there? If it's a recipe post, maybe it's a few of the necessary tools needed to complete the recipe. Include your Amazon link. If it's a potty training tale, include a list of books you read or potty training supplies you recommend. Still not sure? Google posts similar to yours. What are those people promoting within those posts?
Write a review post. You don't always have to take the stale, old review structure. Maybe your post will be “10 awesome things I've bought with my Swagbucks” or “3 courses in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle that changed my life.” Honestly, I hate writing traditional reviews. But writing something like the two examples given gets me excited and allows me to more clearly show my excitement. That's what sells – your story and excitement!
Do a YouTube video. This is another great way to do a review but in a much more visual form. Bonus: this also lets people know you have actually purchased or used the product yourself if you are showing it on video.
Include it in a list post. List posts can be great not only for traffic but also sharing affiliate links. Make a list of your favorite industry tools, products or supplies.
Tell your email list about it. If you have an engaged email list, and I hope you do, it will almost always outperform a blog post. You may choose to (sparingly) write a dedicated email about something you love, or just link to it as it fits naturally within your story. Or, add a P.S. to the bottom of your email if you have a special sale or coupon code to share.
Repetition is the key to success. It's probably not too surprising that I make a nice little chunk of change on Swagbucks every month. It's a service I use myself. I mention it in my newsletter regularly. It's also mentioned in 40 posts on my blog at the time of writing this email. FORTY. Whether it's Swagbucks or your favorite whisk, when a reader sees you mention something so naturally over and over again they eventually say, “You know. All this lady does is talk about this magic whisk. I better try it for myself.”