Last Update 1st June, 2017.
Today I'm going to give you my top 10 tips on how to make money blogging with affiliate marketing online.
I'm Simon and I've been making money blogging since 2014 and I've been making more than a full-time income from my blogs since 2015.
You can read my full story here.
Over the last few years I've learned a few things about the making money by blogging industry.
Not only through the free training at Wealthy Affiliate, but through my own experience as well.
And very often I'm asked by The Make Money Online Blog readers how to make money blogging, especially through affiliate marketing and exactly what it takes to build successful blogs.
Now let me start with the bad news: since I founded this blog I've seen hundreds of people succeed at building their online empires and create a passive income for themselves using the blogging platform, but I'll be honest and tell you I've also seen hundreds start out strong and now they're nowhere to be seen (they're probably busy working for their monthly pay packet)
I know that's probably what you wanted to hear, but it's the reality. Remember, I'm telling you this to give you very best chances of success.
Some people start a blog and go full-throttle with the highest hopes of building a blogging business and achieving their online income goals only to get discouraged and quit when it doesn't happen as quickly as they'd expected.
I've been there and I've made plenty of blogging mistakes, I've also spoken with and interviewed many a fellow blogger and I can boil the biggest mistakes aspiring bloggers make down to these three things:
- The wrong mindset
- The lack of good training, skills and right know-how (this is the biggie)
- Unrealistic income goals
And it's sad because it doesn't have to be this way. If I and hundreds of others can be successful and make money blogging (like enough to quit their full-time jobs), then why the heck can't you?
The process of making money with your blog through affiliate marketing is a simple one. To prove just how easy you can do this, here's a video showing just how affiliate marketing works:
In no particular order…
1) Commit a good 12 months to your blog
When it comes to earning money from blogging, most people let impatience and a “get rich quick” mentality to get the better of them before they ever experience breakthrough.
I mean that you're almost doomed to failure if you go to this blogging malarkey thinking: “I'll give this thing a try, dip my toes in the water and see if anything happens.”
Then after 2-3 months of halfhearted attempts at affiliate marketing they figure it's not possible, after all they tried and it just didn't work.
It's not their fault right?
If you're serious about making money from blogging, you're not just a blogger throwing a few affiliate links around your blog and hoping for the best; you're an entrepreneur with an online business.
And to succeed in any business, on or offline, you need to decide, commit, achieve.
It takes a persistent (stubborn) dedication to get a blogging business off the ground. Consistency is key as you need to give you and your blog time to grow, test what works and what doesn't and time to make adjustments.
Starting a blogging business doesn't take much start up capital… actually anyone can start a blog for free. Joining companies as an affiliate doesn't anything and you can get all the training and community support and website hosting for free right here.
Which is great right? It means there's ‘less barriers to entry', making money blogging with affiliate marketing is potentially something anyone on any continent, from any background can do.
The major downside to this though is that with cash capital invested, the level of commitment can be lower. With nothing much to lose, it can be easier to do it another day or quit.
But trust me, there is so much to lose!
It's the loss of building your own thriving business, becoming an independent online entrepreneur. It's the loss of a quality of life, a loss of life choices, a loss of control over your financial destiny.
If you want all of these things then from day one you must take your blogging business seriously.
People would behave completely different if they invested $100,000 to start a conventional offline business. Let me tell you: they would focus all of their energies, passion, time and effort into making sure their business was a success.
In this scenario, if things didn't happen right away exactly how they expected, you wouldn't see many people walking away shrugging their shoulders saying: “Oh well, it was worth a try.”
It takes time for you to improve your writing, to learn how to write blog posts faster, to get ranked in Google, to build your list of email subscribers, to gain a solid following on social and building your blogging business brand.
So give yourself enough time to cultivate your blogging business and see fruit. Don't quit at the 3 month or 6 month mark – commit to giving yourself at least 12 months to see if this making money blogging thing is for you.
2) Focus on Building A Single Niche Website First
The potential of making money through blogging is huge, and it's possible to earn a passive income in any website niche.
So instead of focusing on building a single, strong authority site in one niche, the mistake many aspiring make money bloggers make is to start with a handful of sites.
They think that if you can make money from one blog, you could make triple the net income with three blogs, right?
And yeah in principle it's true.
But if you're new to blogging as a business, it's far better to start with one strong site, focus on building content and gaining readers, than to spread yourself to thin over too many blogs.
(I only started The Make Money Online Blog once I had a proven track record of building a successful and profitable blog in the leadership/church growth niche.)
Trying to juggle even two sites at the very beginning is a sure recipe for disaster and burnout. Please don't do it to yourself!
It used to be you could buy a keyword packed domain name, add a couple of posts and make a decent income almost overnight.
Today, success with affiliate marketing works best by building large and deep authority niche websites.
Put your time, energy, passion,focus into building a single niche website. Build it into an income generating asset, then increase that income until you can do this full time and start earning five figures a month.
Try to remember you have a whole lifetime to build as many blogs as you want. It's far better to build a strong blog which can be a part of your bigger blogging portfolio later.
When you're ready to start a blog in a second niche, you'll have gained a ton of knowledge, skill and expertise from your first blog which you can take with you to build a second niche website in half the time.
3) Promote affiliate products you can be proud of
I see this happen a lot and it's so obvious when it does: someone decides to start an affiliate marketing blog, head over to Clickbank and pick the first product or service that catches their eye.
Honestly you will find it very difficult to make money blogging this way.
Because blogging is a two way relationship between you and your readers. The last thing you want to do is undermine your blog’s integrity by promoting some half-baked, sham of a product. Sure you could make some quick cash but at the expense of losing the trust of your readers – so not worth it.
Before I ever promote any product or service to my readers, I always make sure it meets this criteria:
a) Do I use it myself?
Can I honestly recommend it? If you've never used it yourself how can you ever give more than the very shallow information you can find already on the sales page?
People want to hear your experiences, results and thoughts and we all know when we're being sold to.
b) Is it something my readers would find helpful?
Is the product or service you want to promote relevant and helpful? Can it help them solve a problem?
Relevant because what's the point in recommending dishwashers on a gardening niche website, right? And helpful because it's value lies in how it can benefit your readers.
Remember you're putting your name and your blog's reputation on the line every time you make a recommendation.
c) Do they have a free trial?
Finally, one thing you'll notice with everything I promote here is that not only do I use it myself, it helped me solve a problem, but you can also try the product or service for free with no strings attached so you can make an informed decision on whether or not it's a good fit for you.
Only if a product or service meets these three criteria will I even mention it in passing. It’s a good filter to put any of your promotions through.
4) Get Proper Affiliate Marketing Training
For aspiring bloggers, by very definition, making money blogging is a new concept, a new and unknown world of uncertainties.
If you're not careful, many a self-proclaimed guru could easily take advantage of this by selling you on the latest get rich quick scheme or dodgy training program.
With any new venture, you'll be learning a new set of skills but there's no secret to making money online by blogging – just the right know-how is all.
So don't ever get burned by the get rich quick scammers promising you the earth but giving you nothing.
And if you have been scammed before, I have too so try not to beat yourself up about it, the'v become experts at pressing our emotional buttons.
Nowadays I can spot a scam a mile off, once you learn to recognise the red flags you'll never be scammed again.
Here's a few examples:
- Make $32,674 in the next 14 days with this Google-busting system
- Do this and earn money overnight at the single click of a mouse
- Easily get $4,500 – $6.500+ per day on autopilot
- Your foolproof million dollar blueprint
- Here's how to become rich today
- Quick, this offer ends at midnight!
- Want to quit your job on Monday? Here's exactly how…
Reading junk like this should make sirens go off in your head.
Anyone telling you to buy his automatic, overnight get rich quick system is after one thing: taking money out of your wallet.
I mean just think about it for a sec, why is someone with this kind of system trying to sell it to you if it's really all he/she claims it to be?
For me, my blogging business journey started back in March 2014 after I watched a dodgy YouTube video of a guy flashing his cash and sports cars, bragging about how much money he made on autopilot from his yacht…
I could see the potential of the internet to earn money and I was desperate – this guy was pushing all the right buttons. But I decided to be smart and do some research before handing over my hard-earned cash, so I read reviews of other people's experiences and quickly learned this was just yet another make money online scam.
The I came across a Wealthy Affiliate review that described a community of bloggers and affiliate marketing training that shows people how to build a legitimate and revenue-generating blogging business.
So if you're looking to get the best training from successful online entrepreneurs and mentors the I recommend the Wealthy Affiliate community.
Why do I recommend it? (see step 3)
Because it's how I started my money making blogs so I know it works, I've been a paid member for nearly three years and you can try it yourself by creating a free starter account.
So absolutely make sure you get the most up to date training you can to give your blog the best chances of success. And more than training, make sure you have the right community support to help you through times you feel stuck or not sure about something.
5. Develop a blogging marketing strategy
Once you've started your blog, developing a solid blogging strategy is one of the smartest moves you can make.
It's smart because it'll help you stay on course and avoid being distracted by every new and flashy marketing strategy out there.
It's not that they're all bad, I teach many of them – it's just there's so many different ways to market your blog, its best to focus on a single strategy and see it through to completion.
But all you need is one marketing strategy to start. It's way better to be great and excel at one thing than be mediocre at ten things.
For this blog right now, my main priorities marketing-wise are SEO marketing (search engine) and email marketing. Very soon I will create YouTube channels for each of blogs and get started with video marketing.
Further down the line I can see mayself venturing out more in the area of guest posting on other important sites within my related niche.
And this is what I focus on. One step at a time and only when I'm feeling ready to take the next step.
Every time I start a blog in a new niche I typically focus on building it out with quality content by publishing at least 120 blog posts. This will usually take me 9-12 months (this could be quicker but I'm currently volunteering full-time in Thailand). By this time I'm getting at least 1,000 daily visitors from Google alone.
Not long after I've started a blog I'll also focus building a list of email subscribers. After 12 months this blog now has nearly 30,000 subscribers and will keep on growing.
Why do I do this? Because I don't think I would get these kind of results if I tried 20 different kinds of blog marketing at the same time. Not a chance because I wouldn't be focused enough to do the job right.
So focus on one core blog marketing technique and work on it until you become a pro in that area. Then and only then, move onto the next one.
If you're working your way through the Wealthy Affiliate training, you'll primarily focus on content and social marketing. This'll give you the strong blogging platform you can build on going forward.
6) Have A Blogging Schedule
As an online entrepreneur you don't want to leave your business and income to chance.
Having an intentional thought-out blogging schedule (especially if you're not at this full-time) will mean you can be as productive and efficient as possible.
In the beginning of my blogging journey I would set a day aside excited at the prospect of working through my to-do list.
Without a clear plan I typically only accomplished 50% of what I thought I would and ended up frustrated with myself.
Being your own boss and owning your own money-making blogging business means you'll have to juggle different tasks as you jump from one skill set to another.
But it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Whatever time you can set aside for building your blog, it helps to break the tasks into smaller, bite-size chunks.
Another reason I'm proud to recommend Wealthy Affiliate is that it's perfect for newbie bloggers starting out because it breaks down the steps needed to set up your business into clearly defined tasks, meaning you build your business as you work though each lesson in the training modules.
To give you an example, here's my breakdown of a typical blogging week:
This is the day that I do my keyword research and come up with post titles.
Tuesday & Wednesday:
These are my writing days.
This is my email marketing and social scheduling day.
This is growing and learning day. I'm a huge believer in taking time to invest into yourself. I'll read a book, take some video lessons within Wealthy Affiliate and keep up to date with some of my favourite bloggers.
I know I am the biggest limiting factor of my online business and the potential earnings it can generate which is why I intentionally put time aside to always keep growing and learning and taking the limits off.
More than acquiring knowledge on Fridays, it's the day I think about my medium to long-term blogging strategy, think of new ideas, get fresh inspiration.
Each day I also set time aside to respond to blog comments and emails.
Oh and when I'm working on my blog (like right now writing this post), my phone is off, Facebook is closed and my door is locked. Try and cut out as many of the time-wasting distractions as possible.
Whatever schedule you set for yourself, make it realistic and stick to it. It'll keep you on the right track.
7) When it comes to commissions, do the math
In tip #5 I suggest you pick affiliate products to promote that you can be proud of. Here I want to delve a little deeper on the money making side of affiliate marketing.
So remember what I said earlier, you have to promote a product you can wholeheartedly get behind, as well as being an avid user of it yourself.
Of course deciding on what to promote is critical to your blog's financial success. As well as looking at the quality, relevancy and helpfulness of any product or service you promote, it's also key I think to consider the commissions you will be earning.
It's a balance right? I mean you have to think of your blog's reputation and you also want your blog to make money for you. Your potential earnings should also be a consideration in deciding what to promote on your blog.
There no end of affiliate programs out there. A simple Google search for “type your blogging niche here + affiliate program” will bring you hundreds of results.
I also use affiliate networks at times. There are free to join networks of often thousands of affiliate programs where you can find a variety of products to promote and receive one monthly payment.
Some of the most popular affiliate networks I've personally used are:
Just a quick note about ClickBank: There are a lot of good products on ClickBank but a lot of crappy ones too be careful and do your research before you decide to represent anyone on ClickBank. Check out the feedback scores and take a look at the sales pages. Better still, order the product yourself before promoting it.
Let's talk about commissions
As an affiliate and online entrepreneur you want to get a good work vs. reward ratio right? If you have an online goal you're aiming for, before deciding what to promote it's important to do the maths to see what you have to do to get there.
For example, if you want to be making $5,000 a month from your blog. Let's say you up as an Amazon affiliate. Their commission ranges from 4% to 8.5%.
If you're promoting a product that sells for $100, you'll be making 8.5%. This means in order for you to reach your $5,000 a month mark you'll need to sell 19 items a day, or $588 items a month which, with a commission of $8.50 per sale will get you to $4,998.
This is certainly within the realms of possibility, I know people who are making this level of sales, but it won't happen overnight.
On the other hand, let's say you're promoting a training course that's $100 per month and the commission rate is 25%. That's just 6 courses you need to sell per day, or 200 per month to get to your $5,000 a month goal.
Typically, most affiliate networks offer anything from 10-20% commissions. ClickBank can sometimes offer up to as much as 75% commissions.
For me personally, if I'm going to all the effort to get someone to my site, engage them and finally get them to click on an affiliate link – I don't want to just get paid once.
This is why I love to promote leadership core coaching courses with a 12 month recurring membership fee – because I get paid not just once, but 12 times.
Wealthy Affiliate, if someone decides to upgrade to the premium membership, is also a monthly recurring fee.
Now you have money coming in at the start of each month before you've sold anything new for that month.
8) Small, consistent steps win you the prize
Making money with your blog is a marathon not a sprint. We talked about this a little on my first point but it's worth reiterating because it's the reason most bloggers quit before every making any money.
Most of them quit because they expected to get from where they are now to where they want to be in one fell swoop. But the reality is, rather than one giant leap, blogging success is more like a series of small, accumulative daily steps.
Anyone can start a blog, but making money with your blog takes patience and there's definitely no overnight rags to riches guarantee.
The good thing is as you continue to work at it, you’ll pass enough milestones along the way to keep you motivated like:
- Making your first affiliate sale
And then something magical seems to happen at the 6 month mark… all of a sudden you’ll find you’re ranking number one in Google for certain keyword phrases, you’ll see more daily visitors to your blog and what started out as a slow and unpredictable trickle will soon turn into a daily steady stream of sales. And all these things push you to keep going.
Wealthy Affiliate can show you exactly ‘How‘ to build a profitable blog, but they can't give you your ‘Why‘…
Knowing your ‘Why‘ will help keep you from getting discouraged. Whatever your reason for getting into blogging, whatever your reason for building an online business, use this as motivation to see you through the tough times.
Whatever your reason is, I encourage you, no, I urge you, take small daily action steps and be stubborn enough to see it through and don't let impatience get the better of you.
It took me 12 months from the time I joined Wealthy Affiliate to where I could finally quit my day job and make the move from the UK to Thailand where I've been ever since.
Building a business takes time. Getting ranked in Google takes time. Some of the work you do today might not bear any fruit for another 6 months or so, but the good thing is, when it does, it does again and again and again.
So look at the next 12 months as an investment into your long-term financial future. When you think about it a year is not that long to totally change your quality of life and have the freedom to decide what path you want your life to go in, especially when compared to where you'll be in a year financially with your current day job.
I think we can agree it's a year well spent.
9) Helpful bloggers are successful bloggers
We all know when we're being sold don't we?
So don't make this mistake with your blog. The biggest earning bloggers are the greatest story tellers.
Now I'm not talking about fabricators, but storytellers who know how to share their experiences with the product or service they're promoting in a way that connects.
Do you honestly think what you're offering can really help your reader? If you're using it yourself you know why and how it's helping you.
So now, instead of selling or promoting, you're actually blogging from a place of wanting to help others succeed or solve that problem they have. Can you see how this changes everything?
I love this quote from Zig Ziglar:
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
Any regular reader of this blog will know I'm big on writing helpful and useful blog content. The most successful (and profitable) blogs are those that answer people's questions and solve people's problems.
You really want to make money blogging? Then be as helpful as you possible can.
When people ask me about how to make money blogging, I have no worries talking to them about Wealthy Affiliate because I'm logged in everyday, I know the tools and training very well, I'm always interacting with the community and helping aspiring bloggers get started. It's exactly where I got started and so I'm proud to put my name to Wealthy Affiliate.
I don't need to sell anyone on Wealthy Affiliate, I just share my own experiences and my own results, try and give as much information as possible and then let people decide for themselves if it's for them.
It's not up to me to make other people's decisions, it's just up to me to try and be as helpful as possible. Can you see how this perspective comes through in your writing? If you really want to make money blogging you have to stop selling to people and just help them instead.
10) You need to change the way you think
I heard a saying once which I can't quite remember so I'll paraphrase, but it went something like this:
“The most difficult thing I ever had to do was not to be successful, but believe that success could happen to me”
For me, in the last three years I've been making money through my blogs and affiliate marketing, the biggest think I have to change is my thinking.
You see, I come from a council estate in the north of England. No one in my extended family has ever gone to university. My cousins who are not on government are working entry level jobs. I myself worked in shops, fast food places and call centres for twelve years.
Blogging changed all of that, as I've already mentioned, I'm now living the life of my dreams here in south east Asia all as a direct result of the income I receive from my blogging portfolio. Aside from my friends within the Wealthy Affiliate community, I'm the only person I know who makes any money at all online.
Even when I try to explain to my friends and family they still don't quite ‘get it'. And I admit, it sounds almost crazy to say I make money online. Every morning I wake up and still can't quite believe I am where I am doing what I'm doing it's amazing, a real dream come true.
But I haven't finished yet, I'm just getting started. And how do I get to where I want to be? By taking the limits off of my thinking; by changing my self-talk.
Maybe this is true for you too. It's natural to be skeptical at first, I think we all are, but at some point you're going to have to start believing that you can be successful at this too.
I mean why not? If I can, you definitely can too.
Whatever your chosen blog topic, you have a unique voice to add to the online conversation, you're own personality waiting to burst onto the global digital stage.
If you have a dream of making money blogging and you're willing to invest time into developing yourself and taking action – who can stop you?
You and I both agree there's more to life than working for somebody else, more to live than living from paycheck to paycheck. The possibilities are endless when you're an independent online business owner.
I can tell you about some of the bigest mistakes I've made, not just in blogging, but in life. Ones that would throw 99% of other people out of the race for good. In a way I shouldn't be where I am today, but I am because of the right mindset.
We've already talked about the importance of knowing why you're building an online business; it's what will keep you going, pushing ahead and seeing things through.
My friend in Wealthy Affiliate wrote two great posts on this very topic and I highly recommend you check them out.
Set yourself up for success and take the limits off of your thinking.
What have I missed?
Well that's it. Those are my top 10 tips on how to make money blogging with affiliate marketing. Any post like this is bound to be missing some integral elements. Do you have any advice to people looking to make money as a blogger and affiliate marketer? Or perhaps I missed something entirely?
Please leave a comment below and let me know.